May 1: Low Key

I want a lot out of this month but I am trying to teach myself to add things slowly instead of trying to do everything all at once.

After all, I know that successful changes, new practices, come from starting small and building up.

BUT

I also know that jumping right into a bunch of new practices all at once feels good. I feel engaged and energetic and accomplished…until I run out of steam.

And despite the fact that I run out of steam EVERY SINGLE TIME, my brain still wants to chase that excited feeling of doing ALL OF THE THINGS.

Without the benefits of medication and experience, I would be planning to do more art, more writing, more exercise, more Taekwon-do, more house organizing, more everything all at once, starting right now, maybe half an hour of each, on top of what I already do each day.

It would be fun today but by the end of the week, I would be out of steam.

So, instead, I am layering all of those things into my life during May.

I will ‘touch’ each habit each day but only really focus on one at a time.

Let’s see how it goes.

?a view of a backyard patio with bare trees in the background
My patio and trees are on the same plan that I am – the basics in place but we’ll add new things a little at a time and let them grow. Image description: The view from one corner of my patio. A lawn chair is directly across from me and beyond that there are trees that don’t have any leaves on them next to my red shed.

A different approach

I had a tangly kind of day. No crises, just a few vaguely unpleasant parts that I couldn’t shake loose from my brain.

My mind’s insistence on reviewing those unpleasantries kept me from work effectively for a chunk of the day. By this evening I was at loose ends and looking for a way to help myself feel better.

My initial plan was to do some journaling and then try to do some work but, frankly, I really didn’t want to do that.

So, instead, I exercised.

I took Khalee for a walk.

I rowed on my rowing machine for 20 minutes.

I did some strength training.

And I did some yoga.

That may sound like a lot but I didn’t overdo it, I paid close attention to how I was feeling and kept my efforts in the enjoyable range.

And when I was done, I felt so much better. The unpleasantries were still there but they had far less real estate in my mind.

I’m calling this method a success – not only is my mind clear but I feel good physically, too.

A light haired dog curled up on a blue yoga mat
Khalee is a fan of my yoga mat. Luckily she moved before I needed to lie on it! Image description: a light haired dog is curled up on a blue yoga mat (with lighter blue patterns on it)

Walk #8

My post for Fit is a Feminist Issue yesterday was all about how much I have enjoyed walking the dog at around the same time every day for the past week. Being consistent with my exercise is always a challenge for me so even a one week streak is a victory for me.

But, as pleased as I am with my streak, I am especially pleased with myself for heading out for my walk today.

It was raining – so that was one challenge.

I accidentally missed our usual walk time because I was in the middle of reorganizing my office – that was another challenge.

If I didn’t have that 7 day streak going, I probably would have just not gone this evening.

But I do have that streak happening. That means that the decision to go on a walk has essentially already been made, it just comes down to timing.

So, instead of choosing whether or not to go, I just looked at the shape of my evening and decided when I could fit our walk in.

Khalee and I headed out at 8:10 and even though it was dull and drizzly, it was grand to be out and we had a great time.

A light-haired  dog on a lease walks across a bridge at dusk.   A suburban street is visible  at the top of the photo.
Khalee is a very determined walker.

One of the things I wanted to do on that walk, aside from getting exercise, was to come up with something to write about this evening and this was what occurred to me.

I wanted to capture and remember this feeling of how my walk became even more automatic today – just part of the landscape of my day.

When I am coaching people about building new habits, I encourage people to find a way to take the thing they want to do out of the realm of choice. The example I always use is brushing your teeth – you may not feel like doing it, it may not be much fun, but it is important and it is part of your day, and, most of the time, you don’t waffle, you just do it.

Today, my walk was like brushing my teeth – the weather didn’t matter, the fact that it was later didn’t matter – my walk wasn’t about ‘if’ I was going to go, it was about when.

Go me!

(and Go Khalee! too, of course)