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  • Martha Engeman

What my Pillow Taught Me

Several years ago, when we were in need of a new mattress, Dave and I let a salesman convince us to

spend a lot of money on a mattress and pillows that ended up not working for us at all. Because we had made an Investment (with a capital I) in said mattress and pillows, we stuck with them for eight long years before my back and his side screamed loud enough for us to listen and get a new mattress.

It was the pillow though, that I remember the most. You see this special pillow that according to the salesman was the best thing since sliced bread, cost me $150 dollars when I purchased it more than 10 years ago. I never really liked it but convinced myself that I needed to use it. So I worked with it. I tried stacking pillows, folding it over, and finally just accepted having a pillow I really didn’t like because it was an Investment (again with a capital I) and I felt that it was my duty to get my money’s worth.

Recently, it occurred to me that I could try one of the other pillows we have lying around and low and behold, I found my perfect pillow. It definitely cost a fraction of my $150 pillow. Like Goldilocks, I have finally found a pillow that is just right for me.

So why all this pillow talk? As I look back on all those years and probably about 28,000 hours of sleep on a pillow that I simply tolerated, I realize that I wasn’t listening to my inner knowing at all. If I had been, I would have jettisoned that pillow years ago. For some reason, I didn’t spend the time or effort to correct something that really did matter. I just let it be.

There are times when it is absolutely appropriate to let things be as they are. Those are the times when what we do will most likely not impact the end result. As the Serenity prayer says, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” It’s when things really are important to us and we can make a change that we owe it to ourselves to stand up and act.

What my pillow escapade taught me is that in some ways, I put my needs way down at the bottom of the totem pole. I make a huge production in my mind about what I think needs to be done to change something, or I avoid it. With the pillow, I had purchased some pillows that didn’t work well, so I gave up putting energy into a new pillow. I just lived with something that was suboptimal.

What I know for sure is that when I ignore the small, but important things in my life, it has an impact on me. It’s like walking in your house and seeing a piece of art that you don’t really like. Over time, you can get used to it, but each time you see it, on some level you are registering that you don’t really like it, so it depletes your energy.

As for the infamous pillow, I am blessing it and sending it on its way. It’s lived its life and now it's time for it to go.

What is one small, but important thing that you can address in your life this week? What do you notice when you do address it? Feel free to email me about your experience at or post it in the comments.


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