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The "right" thing to do for your health.

Updated: May 5, 2021

This week, I got lost in a young adult novel called The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee. The story is about Jo Kuan, a 17-year-old Chinese-American girl living underground in Atlanta in 1890. She's a lady's maid by day and an anonymous advice columnist by night for a local newspaper, doling out pithy but searing commentary on race and gender. In one scene, her elderly caretaker stands up against a new segregation law for streetcars by choosing to walk to and from work, in spite of his failing health.

Jo writes, "The river's path will be harder this way... Then again, perhaps the path is easiest when the heart is light."

This wisdom is at the root of the work I do with my clients. Making a choice to be on the right side of your conscience or your health takes awareness and effort, but we usually have a pretty good instinct for whether something feels right or wrong. Wrong feels like prison. Right feels like freedom—even if it takes a Herculean effort to reinforce it—and the payoff for standing up for what's right is lightness.

Just because something is right doesn't make it easy. That's just the truth, so when it comes to our health, why is it so hard to perceive what's right and follow through with what we need?

It requires:

  • Acknowledging pain points and limitations—without judging them.

  • Experimenting with new and different ways to heal.

  • "Failing" a lot in the process without getting discouraged.

  • Prioritizing our own needs.

That last one alone is cringe-worthy. As caring people, we're not inclined to put ourselves first. Add in the failure, pain, and healing parts, and a lot of people would rather peace out and carry on with the status quo. Change is hard, but "the path is easiest when the heart is light."

Choosing a path forward is a matter of finding what feels right.

I've been working on handstands to get some of my lightness back. After recovering from years of frozen shoulder, I discovered I had completely lost my ability to hold a handstand: something I did effortlessly throughout childhood and most of my adult life. Realizing I couldn't do it anymore shook me. It was a question of identity. If I lost that quirky bit of myself without a fight, I might as well be halfway to the grave.

(Kindly disregard the fact that, in my 40's, I am likely, in fact, nearly halfway to the grave. But I want to be an 80-year-old with a handstand, thank you very much!)

Anyway, I've been practicing, pulling steadily away from the wall. My arms and shoulders are strong. My core is verging on stable, and—most importantly—my confidence is back. This process took a terrifying leap of faith (to get started without cracking my head open) and about 5 minutes a day thereafter—5 minutes I plan to continue claiming from here on out. It's a little thing, but it makes me more myself. It's the "right" thing to do.

What is the right thing to do for your health? What makes you feel more like yourself?



Elle Magazine came out with an article last week by Brijana Prooker titled "It's Time For Women To Break Up With Politeness." Brijana interviewed women from all over the world, finding a widely-held tendency for women to subjugate their own safety and well-being to avoid appearing "difficult." She also found a collective resolve to let that impulse go—precisely now. She wrote, "If anything is going to incite our conviction to say 'no more' to politeness, it might as well be living through an actual plague."

To do that, as I wrote in Physical Disobedience, "We’re going to have to get behind this effort all together and all at once, stripped bare and proud of it... Give your body the tools it needs to be strong, not small. Set it free to be whatever it is at its most lively and unruly."


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