More sleep – a resolution for 2017?

Over five decades of living, not counting the years before much cognitive development ;-), I feel I have a lot of experience to be able to share in the hopes that others can learn from my mistakes. The heart behind all of these posts is that they will land on someone who can really benefit from the words. This journey through life is too difficult to do it without help — I sure use all the help I can get!

Much used axioms and admonitions become so overused that we start to ignore them. But the reason they are used so frequently is because they are, indeed, true. So the very reason you hear them all the time leads to the very reason you ignore them! Quite a conundrum. And exactly why snake oil pitchmen can persuade us into all sorts of things — they say something new we haven’t heard before! (And therefore probably not true — there really IS nothing new under the sun!)

So my first piece of advice, I’m sure you’ve heard countless times. I’m bringing it up now because it’s affected me greatly recently, and this is the time of year we think about trying to change things. (Remember we were talking about finding a good WHY for your New Year’s resolution?)

Sleep. So important. Lack of it makes everything so much worse. Health. Strength. Relationships. Thoughts. Worries. You name it. I recently felt such lack of sleep that I actually felt dizzy! Really. Now you know that can’t be good; for your body, for your mind, or for those around you!

Here is the mat chat for this week with the kids, in keeping with the training theme of BALANCE:

Balance is needed throughout life, in every aspect of life. Sometimes you’re not aware of it — just standing and walking require balance!
Sometimes you hear that you should be more balanced — like in eating more vegetables and fewer desserts!

And with some things we rarely think about — when to speak and when to just listen. When to just “be” with a friend who’s hurting, and when to give advice or words of encouragement. How many layers to put on — too many and you’re too hot, too few and you’re too cold (please don’t leave any of your layers here!)

And probably most importantly when it comes to self-defense, is knowing when you need it – when you need to call out to someone for help – when you need to walk away from a situation – and when you need to block an attack and get away!

We want to not just train you to block and get away — but we also want to train your thinking and your awareness so you can AVOID situations that might require you to block an attack and get away!

Do you know what one single thing affects ALL of the above? One thing that upsets your balance — can even make you DIZZY? Not getting enough sleep! This week we want to remind you to make sure you are getting enough sleep and don’t fight your mom and dad when it comes to bedtime!

I want to stop and add a side note for parents here: last week one of our students, in school, did correctly and wisely use his blocks to defend himself against another student’s attack.. Fortunately a teacher witnessed the whole episode and he did not get into any trouble. The reason we tell students it is up to mom and dad to decide when they can use their karate is precisely because all of our blocks CAN be seen as a strike. So if there are no witnesses your child CAN be the one accused of striking. I do want to encourage you to a conversation with your child about when and where and how you think using their karate is appropriate. And once is not enough. As they grow and increase their karate skills, it’s a conversation to have repeatedly.

Back to sleep. Ok that doesn’t sound right. Back to wisdom from my years of experience. Not much better. Please, get the sleep you need!

Be realistic. Set a goal that is achievable for you, and one you can track and gain confidence as you achieve it.

Let’s say you have a hard time falling asleep at night. Allow yourself 30 minutes before you go to sleep to relax, whether that’s by reading, taking a bath, listening to soothing music, or spending quiet time with God. Maybe that’s too unrealistic for your busy schedule. So start with 15 minutes.

Let’s say you can fall asleep in an instant but it’s the amount of time you have for sleep that’s the problem. Maybe just move up the time you go to bed gradually – 10 minutes for a week, 15 minutes the next week; you get the idea. A lot of times we think, “I can’t do that” but really, we don’t even want to try. Give it a try. Just a few extra minutes. Set your alarm to start getting ready for bed earlier than you normally do. Inch your way back to going to bed early enough that you start to wake up your own, without an alarm. For most people, that’s a good way to be sure you’re getting enough sleep.

I know some people have some real sleep issues that they need to address with their doctors. But for most of us it’s just a question of discipline. (You want to set a good disciplined example for your kids!) Or of thinking it’s really not that important. (It is!) Or that all that I am doing while I am awake is much more important. (It’s not!)

Here’s to being transformed in 2017!

Balanced Expectations

Day one of a desire to spend more time in nature found me on a favorite walk through the woods to a beautiful spot on the river nearby. I say desire, because it’s not as formal as a resolution. As I think about balance, I’m trying to apply balance to my New Year’s resolutions.

We’re sharing with the older kids this week that we need to think long and hard about what resolutions we make. We want to be part of the 8% of people who are successful with their New Year’s resolutions. (Not quite sure how they come up with those statistics, but it sounds reasonable.) I believe that what determines success is in part due to a balanced approach to making the resolutions in the first place. By that I mean being thoughtful, and not being swept up and setting emotional expectations that are beyond our capabilities.

To me that’s what balance is all about. Some might call it being centered, or grounded. Because it’s our current training theme, I’m going to call it balance. Taking into account the real motivation behind our goal, as well as taking into account our past and our propensities and coming up with realistic goals that we can, indeed, accomplish is a balanced approach. This will lead the way to being able to make more goals, and meet them as well. On the contrary, when we get carried away and emotionally come up with a list of 20 things we want to change in 2017, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. Can you see what a cycle we create? We can either spiral upward, or we can spiral downward.

Even the vultures on my walk struggle with balance. The water was very low and a lot of tasty things must have emerged with the mud, because there were more vultures than I’ve ever seen at once, almost too many to count. There were vultures and seagulls, each vying for its own tasty bit, often getting unbalanced in the quest. Deciding whether to stay and fight or move off to another spot. One big bird flew up and alighted on a branch quite near me. Up close and personal I saw his struggle to get balanced on the branch. One wing reached out in one direction, overcompensated and the other wing had to counter before he could settle and rest both wings.

The issue of balance pervades nature.

I find balance just being in the woods, in nature. Hence the desire to spend more time in it. But I don’t have a specific, quantifiable goal for adding more outdoor time into my life. Therefore, I don’t consider it a resolution.

In our balanced approach to making resolutiong, first we have to find a “why”. The more powerful our “why”, the more likely we will achieve our goal. Some indeterminate “to get better”, or following someone else’s goal, just won’t cut it.

Next we have to be realistic. Part of being realistic is also being able to judge whether we met the goal – so it needs to be quantifiable as well as achievable.

I will share the resolution I have made for myself. It will not be for all of 2017, but it will be for the month of January. My resolution is to watch no TV this month. What is my why? Well, I have a long to-do list, both of “must” do’s but also of “want” to do’s. And often after watching TV I feel awful about the time I just wasted. I really want to reclaim that time so I can get some other things done.

Without going into more detail on the “why” and the “realistic” (I know I can do anything for 30 days because I’ve learned that through previous experience!), the last thing needed is accountability. Thus I put it here!

Here’s to many realistic, achievable, quantifiable goals on your path towards balance in 2017!