A sentinel all around

Daddy took this photo one calm and tranquil morning at Chiemsee, Germany, November 1972.

Daddy took this photo early one tranquil morning at Chiemsee, Germany, November 1972.

“…if we starve ourselves of mental junk and replace it with what is true, admirable, right, pure, beautiful, and attractive, peace will stand as a sentinel all around our feelings and thoughts, creating an impregnable fortress of calm and tranquility.”
David Murray

Could you use some calm and tranquility right now? I know I could. I’m writing this in the wee hours of the morning, having been unable to go back to sleep after being awakened in the night. It’s an all-too-common situation; I fall asleep exhausted, but if I wake up (whether on my own, or due to environmental noises) I often lie awake fretting over all the cares that await me as soon as I get up.

I’ve dealt with insomnia long enough to know that lying in bed worrying is not a good precedent to set, and can become an escalating threat to future sleep, so I try to switch gears and look at it as a gift of time. Often I’ll choose to get up and go to work in the blessed quiet of those predawn hours, promising myself an extra-early bedtime later.

This morning, though I had planned to tackle a few projects I had been dreading, I ended up getting distracted by looking through some happy photographs The transformation from self-pity and anxiety to a feeling of gratitude and joy was remarkable. I’m sure I’ll be yawning in exhaustion this afternoon, but I hope that the mood-boosting reminders of abundance will stay with me. The problems that had me lying awake aren’t going to vanish, but I can choose to make them better or worse, depending on what I pay attention to and how I react.

I invite you to join me and “just say no” to a mental diet of junk. As with healthy food, exercise or other aspects of wellness, it might take awhile to cultivate a taste for what is admirable, right, pure and beautiful; we live in a world that seems determined to focus on doom and gloom and useless hand-wringing. But I think the rewards of setting up sentinels to guard our minds and hearts are well worth the initial effort.

What thoughts, activities, poems, prayers, or practices can you rely upon to give you a quick attitude adjustment when you most need it? Feel free to share your favorite joys with us, and let’s build that fortress of calm and tranquility, one intentional moment at a time.

This post was first published seven years ago today. I’m happy to say that one gift hidden in the trauma of my injury of one year ago has been the “re-setting” of my sleep habits. I’m sleeping better now than I ever have. In the beginning it was sheer necessity; my stamina was gone in the exhaustion of multiple doctor appointments, surgeries, adjustments in diet, and the healing taking place on many levels. But now, prioritizing an early bedtime has become a good habit– one I intend to keep.

The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Ron Wood

    The beauty of simple things so easily overlooked such as the privilege of having hot and cold running water for that shower I enjoy. A sunrise I value so much with its beautiful and peaceful serenity that eases me into my day, just to name two of so many things to be thankful for. Thank you for your blog Julia!

    • Thank you Ron! Yes, we don’t stop to think nearly often enough about all the ways our lives are so filled with reasons to be happy. I’m happy to say that I now can agree with you about the sunsets, having become a late life early riser. But better late than never! Thanks for being here.

  2. Good morning, Julia!
    I am with you on an early bedtime being a helpful practice. It’s a great way to provide space in life for a good night’s sleep.
    I’m currently on day 3 post-op since superior capsular reconstruction of my left supraspinatus and infraspinatus tendons. My “sleep” is currently very related to the pain meds, but I think it’s giving me opportunity to start that long healing process. (Less movement is good, right now.)
    Love to you and Matt!

    • Hope all has continued to go smoothly with your recovery! Take it easy and don’t try to do too much too soon…easier said than done! I imagine you might get a bit impatient to get back to normal speed.

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