I have to start this week with a SHOUT OUT to all of the FedEx and UPS workers, the truckers and dry ice manufacturers, the nurses and doctors getting ready to roll out the covid vaccine! Relief is around the bend. In the meantime, we have a few more months on our hands in this weird, suspended, isolated state, and with the New Year on the way, I've been thinking about time... how we use it and how we don't.
Every night when I go to bed, I roll over on my right side, lift my left arm up toward the ceiling, and let it fall open behind me for a deep shoulder stretch—palm up first, then down. It takes approximately ten seconds. This ritual began when I was struggling with frozen shoulder a few years ago—a condition that lasted nearly two years. It's mostly over now, but I stick with the routine to sustain that range of motion. It's a tiny bit of time that makes a huge difference.
In The Habit Trip, the journey begins at an intersection at the base of your driveway with roads stretching in ten different directions, each named for an area of life that impacts your well-being. The first is a road called Time:
"This road is not particularly smooth. In fact, it is cluttered with litter and boulders. It looks like there’s an old airport in the distance. Between here and there, you see several staircases that seem to lead nowhere at all. There are giant billboards streaming videos about all sorts of things: how to replace a doorknob, viral puppy-cam clips, how to be a better public speaker, how to make a spinach smoothie, instructions for clearing out your hard drive, and—f*ck—politics . . . so much politics. At every crosswalk, there are stacks of papers blowing out of filing cabinets, and the cloud cover over this road is growing... The chaos is intriguing, though. You’re mesmerized but unsure of how to focus your attention.
"This street turns and twists and intersects with every one of the other roads you will explore. Time is the most frequent obstacle to change that my clients name. There simply isn’t enough time. I can’t carve it out. Every minute of my day is spoken for. I’m stuck at work. I’m stuck with the kids. Everybody wants a piece of me.
"But time is the structure by which we live. Luckily, it comes in small increments. It can be broken down and taken back in pocket-sized, clever little nuggets: one minute, five minutes, fifteen minutes at a time—and in those minutes, we have the power to shape our daily experience... Claiming your time in smaller increments may seem inconsequential, but in practice, it can be transformative."
My clients are discovering the power of taking time wherever they can in quarantine—the difference it makes and what happens if they don't. One client dances to a gospel song first thing in the morning. Another jumps on her Peloton for 10 (or 45) minutes as the day allows. And another, with hip and back pain, took a few moments last week to dig out an ergonomic seat pillow that was buried in storage, to see if it would help. It did.
Incremental changes can have a monumental impact. One of the most illuminating quotes in the book—which I shared once before—is from Dr. Lewis Newman on Krista Tippett's On Being podcast. He said:
“If you think about this in terms of a 360-degree circle, if you’re headed in one direction and you turn only 1 degree or 2 degrees to the right or to the left . . . it may be a very slight turn, but over an extended period of time, if you now walk in that direction, you’ll end up in an utterly different place than if you extend that line outward infinitely. And that sense of turning even slightly . . . it doesn’t have to be a radical, all of a sudden transformation into a new life. It’s actually a very gradual process of recognizing, ‘You know, I need to pay attention . . . and move in a little different direction.'”
Every big change is rooted in smaller ones, and the smallest shift changes your trajectory if you can stick with it. (More on that in coming weeks!)
My client with hip pain is a young woman, but she was afraid to move like she had in the past, becoming more sedentary and restrictive by the day. If she ignored the pain and it continued to grow for months and years—if she never took time to try the pillow and made the effort to carry it around with her—her posture, productivity, and quality of life would have been greatly reduced in the long run.
The fix she discovered was straightforward. It isn't always that easy, but maintaining a willingness to keep searching for options insures that, one way or another, you'll break out of any unhealthy rut you're in. There are moments each day that are yours for the taking.
What "clever little nugget" of time can you claim?
Wishing you a Monday that belongs, at least partially, to you.
Speaking of nuggets of time and unrelated to anything else, my friend, Julia, sent me this 3-minute video to start my week with a laugh, and I snorted water through my nose. (Guys... this one may or may not be for you.) Sorry, not sorry!
For your Monday: Sally Ride by Marcia Belsky.
I went back to Parnassus to sign more books this week because you all are amazing and bought them all out! (Opie says hi!) If you got your book from a different bookstore, feel free to reach out to me to get signed bookplates for yourself or as a gift. The Bookshop in East Nashville also has signed copies!
Thank you for leaving reviews and sharing with friends! Seeing your pictures makes me so happy!
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Past posts can be found HERE.