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The only thing I do every day is brush my teeth.  I mean, technically, that’s not true, of course, because I open my eyes every day and I breathe every day and I eat every day and I drink water every day.   But you know what I mean.  The only helpful habit I’ve cultivated (that’s not demanded for life) is brushing my teeth every day.  Some people do yoga every day.  Some people meditate every day.  Some people take a multivitamin every day.  I brush my teeth, and that’s it.

Not that I haven’t tried to do other things daily.  I’ve gone through (relatively short) periods where I meditated every day.  I’ve taken different supplements for weeks or months at a time.  I like yoga.  But brushing my teeth is the only thing I do every, single, day.  So, when it is suggested to me, or I suggest to myself, that I start a new something, every day, my response, both to myself and to others, is usually something along the lines of, why bother?  How many bottles of half-finished supplements have I thrown out because after 3 weeks of diligent supplementing, I’ve completely forgotten about them until they expired?  How many yoga/gym/class memberships have I purchased for a great month of sweating to be followed by a few months of guilt and eventual cancellation?  Which means that I often don’t do things that I know are good for me.  Things that would make my life better.  The knowledge that I’m probably not going to be able to keep this up every day, forever, stops me from even starting.

But then I went to the dentist.  For the first time in 4 years.  Don’t judge me.  And the dentist said I needed to start flossing.  (I know, I know, I should’ve started flossing a long time ago.  But I didn’t.  Probably because I tried to to it every day, failed, and gave up.)  As it stands, I floss when I’m bored, standing in the bathroom with the medicine cabinet open, and the floss catches my eye.  As you can imagine, this is about twice a year.  Or, not as often as I should be flossing.  The dentist had the audacity to suggest that I should floss every day.  Which is approximately 363 times more per year than I’m currently flossing.  Naturally, I thought to myself, “That’s not going to happen.”  Clearly, my dentist hadn’t gotten the memo about me only doing one thing every day.  But then, something strange happened.  I went home, and the next day, I flossed.  And then, about a week later, I flossed again.  And then a week after that, I flossed again.

And then I felt silly.  Why even bother flossing once a week?  And then, I thought, “Wait a minute.  What if it’s not silly?”  I mean, flossing once a week has to be better than flossing twice a year, right?  I mean, it’s 26 times better than flossing twice a year!  And, if I’m 34 (and a half) now, and I live to be 100, I could end up flossing 3,275 times more in the next 65 and half years than I would if I just stuck with my regular schedule of twice a year.  That seems to me like a pretty significant improvement.  So maybe it’s not so silly.

And who knows?  Every now and again, I might get the urge to floss twice in a week.  Or three times.  Maybe next year, or in 2020, I could commit to flossing every other day.  Which might not be enough to make my dentist happy, but it’s a helluva lot better than twice a year.

As you may have gleaned by now, I’m not one for new year’s resolutions.  Not that I have any problem with you having them.  By all means, go right ahead.  They’re just not for me.  But, that being said, I do have things I’d like to work on this year.  And I’ve decided to try applying my new flossing approach to them.

For example, I’m trying to sit less, and stand and move more.  And instead of saying, “I will only stand while I write emails and check facebook; never again shall I sit!”  I’ve put my laptop up on a pile of books so that it makes more sense to stand than to sit.  Sure, I can and do take my laptop to the couch when I want to.  But now it’s more effort to sit than to stand, so through my own laziness, I’m standing more than I was before.  I’ve also switched to walking to work more than driving or riding my bike.  I’d love to say that I only walk to work and that I never drive.  But I drove to work on Friday and that doesn’t mean I’m a failure.  I’m still standing and walking more than I was before.  And I count that as a win.

I’ve gotten really excited about this idea of little changes over long periods of time adding up to big differences in the end.  And letting go of the idea that a habit is only good if I do it every single day.  It just makes me happy to come to terms with teeth brushing being my only every-day-habit.  I don’t have to do push-ups every day.  I don’t have to eat kale instead of cheese burgers for the rest of my life.  I don’t have to meditate for an hour a day, every day.  Doing 5 push-ups this week is better than no push-ups.  Even if I swap kale for a cheese burger once this year, it’s a step in the right direction.  And 2 minutes of meditation are better than zero minutes of meditation.

So that’s what I’m going with.  Baby steps.  And no beating myself up when I don’t floss.  Compassion always, even (especially) for myself.

Hey SassyPants, I know it’s been a while.  I’m sorry about that.  I’ve just been so quiet and introspective this winter, ya know?  But it’s starting to feel like spring, and I think it’s time for me to speak up again.  Today, I want to talk about getting shit done.

Here’s the thing.  I love the drama (and the minimal commitment) of drastic changes.  Phrases like “go big or go home” and “I’m all in” and “just do it” are my kind of phrases.  I have been enthralled with cleanses for a long time now.  The Master Cleanse; the apple juice and olive oil Liver and Gall Bladder Cleanse; the Crazy, Sexy, Diet adventure cleanse…you name it, I’ve tried it.  They seem so much more manageable than eating healthy, good food every day.  I’d rather do 200 squats a day for 5 days than something long term like 20 squats a day for the rest of my life.  But I’m learning a lot about the other end of the spectrum lately, and it turns out, I kinda like the slow and steady route, too.

See, I’m training for a marathon, for the first time in my life.  All you super-runners out there, I don’t want to hear about how many marathons you’ve already run.  Really.  This is a big deal for me.  Before I started this training program, the farthest I had run was 7 miles and that was back in college and it was miserable every step of the way and I probably walked at least half a mile in there somewhere.  Two weeks ago, I ran 19 miles.  And it was pretty fun.  I was definitely smiling through most of it.  Weird.

I started training for my first half marathon back in August, so you can see what a long and slow journey this has been.  When I drew up the schedule to train for this marathon (which is in April) in the middle of November, it looked so huge and daunting.  Months and months of running.  But the thing is, every day, I just have to do what the little box for that day tells me to do.  Sometimes I have to run 3 miles.  Sometimes 8.  Sometimes I don’t have to run at all! And sometimes, I have to run further than I’ve ever run before.  But magically (or, exactly how all advice ever given on exercise would predict) things got easier with practice.  Who knew?  And while those first 3-mile runs in August were awful and hard and full of thoughts that I wasn’t going to make it, I now find myself looking forward to the challenge of those longest runs.  20 miles this week and I’m pretty excited.  I know I can do it, which in and of itself is bizarre.  One of my colleagues, Meg Maurer, always says, “You have to eat the elephant one bite at a time,” and I think she might be right.

I’ve watched myself start to apply this lesson in other areas of my life.  Cleaning the whole house once a week (or worse, once a month) is exhausting and overwhelming and daunting.  But if I draw up a schedule and just give myself 1-2 chores every day, the bathroom stays cleaner, the fish tank gets scrubbed, and the kitchen floor gets mopped on a regular basis.  I never have to devote a whole day to cleaning, and the fish never have to suffer through a green tank.  Taking a dance class, I learned that practicing the new moves for 10 minutes a night every night was way more effective than an hour once a week.  Slow and steady wins the race.  I feel like I’ve heard this before, maybe once or twice, but it never really clicked until now.  Better late than never, I suppose.  Also, let’s see how many clichés I can use in one blog post, eh?

So, yeah, I’ll probably still do a cleanse every spring.  I still think there are times for taking giant leaps of faith and making drastic, sweeping changes.  But I can finally see how taking itty bitty baby steps everyday can add up to giant accomplishments you never thought were possible.  Like running for over 4 hours.  I hope we can all continue to learn new tricks as we age.

On the bulletin board today:

Want to host a Demo Day at your workplace?
A few of you have mentioned an interest in introducing me to your coworkers.  I love this plan!  If you want me to come to your workplace and do a little intro talk and/or set up to do some demonstration sessions, just let me know.  We can figure out what will work best given your workplace situation and go from there!

Meditation/Bodywork Retreat
The Posture of Meditation:  Breathing Through the Whole Body in Crestone, CO.  This event was amazing last year!  It’s being offered again this spring, and once again, I’ll be one of the Rolfers on the bodywork team.  The dates are May 30th through June 8th, and registration is currently open.  There is a cap at 40 participants, and it’s expected to fill rather quickly.  More information can be found here: http://www.dharmaocean.org/events and I would be happy to answer any questions about last year’s event, if you’re at all interested.

This question came up three (yes, three!) times in one day in my practice and I found it odd.  So I started asking the same question of friends for the following few days.  Ready for the question?  Here it is:  On a scale of zero to one hundred, where would you say your heart is?  Let’s calibrate the scale, shall we?  Zero is drawbridge up, moat filled with alligators, and an armed gunman on every parapet.  Not to mention the reinforced concrete walls, the electrified barbed wire, and the cannons loaded and ready to fire.  Oh, and dragons; lots of dragons.  On the other end of the spectrum at one hundred, what we have is more open and welcoming than a puppy dog.  You’re more vulnerable and less protected than a baby.  You’re an overripe peach, without skin.  Anything and everything that wants to get in is getting in, and you’re not even going to raise a tiny baby fist in protest.

I hope that for all of us, this is a question where the answer changes hour to hour and day to day, based on the situation.  Obviously we’re not going to go argue about the cable bill with our hearts at 100.  And hopefully, when you hang out with your bestie or your favorite pet, your heart’s not in full-lockdown mode.  But, on average, say for the last week, where would you put your heart?  I don’t really care where it was when you were 3.  Or where you hope it will be when you’re 90.  Or if it wasn’t for that stupid ex-husband of yours, it would be at 70, but now it’s at 31.  Tell me where you’re at, right now, in this life you’re currently living.  Or better yet, tell yourself.  Are you on the open and vulnerable side with 50 or above?  Are you closed and protected with 49 or less?  Much more importantly, do you feel comfortable moving around on that scale?

Once, I read about a study which showed that a heart which oscillates between beating fast and beating slowly is healthier than a heart that stays at a constant, calm rate.  (If I could find that study for you now, I would link to it, but alas; my 92 seconds of googling came up with nothing; I got frustrated, and I decided to just write this post instead.)  This report I read made the point that while we typically assume it’s better to be calm and even keel all the time, this is just not true.  Getting all worked up, whether it be physically or emotionally, is actually better for your heart, as long as you also have periods of rest and relaxation where your heart rate comes back down.  Living this way allows your heart to learn a sort of flexibility so that the highs aren’t so shocking and exhausting when they happened.

I feel like this applies to pretty much everything.  I don’t like air conditioning because I want to be hot in the summer.  It’s summer!  This is when you’re supposed to be hot!  I like to work out super hard, then sit on the porch talking with friends for hours.  I tend to get carried away when I cook and I have to remind myself that just because you can put every single one of the spices in a meatloaf doesn’t mean you should.  And at the same time, I’m perfectly happy eating plain crackers for dinner.  Go to extremes, then find middle ground.

Same goes for your emotional, energetic heart.  Your life experiences and your current outlook have led you to whatever number you came up with regarding the openness of your heart.  No biggie.  No need to judge yourself, or flaunt your number.  No number is better than any other (except 9, which is just the coolest number on the planet, but not any extra cool for this exercise).  What’s more important is, can you move from that number, when it’s appropriate?  26 may be a super comfortable place for you right now.  Safe, but not on full-lockdown.  Guarded, but you’ve got a good reason for that.  However, when the love of your life appears, do you have the ability to open up a bit more?  Can you get to 54 so they can squeeze through the door?  And if 78 is where you normally hang out, do you know how to draw things in a bit, when necessary?  Can you hear criticism without it destroying your whole week?  Are your boundaries well defined and well protected, in case an ill-wishing marauder comes your way?

If so, hooray!  You’re like a heart olympian!  If not, what stretches can you do to increase your emotional flexibility?  Imagine scenarios where your heart moves towards the bigger numbers along the spectrum.  Picture your heart lowering the drawbridge, putting the dragons out to pasture, and taking off the suit of armor.  What have you been missing out on, that can now come in?  Now go towards the itty, bitty numbers, put that chain mail back on, and grab your sword.  What challenges can you meet face first, with your heart protected like this?

Going back to your original number; is that something you’re happy about?  Are you comfortable there?  Does that rating of openness serve you well?  Again, if so, then super-duper!  If not, now may be a good time to point your nose towards the end of the spectrum you’d like to be closer to.  One day at a time, one decimal point at a time, make an effort to get your heart to a number that better suits you.  And remember, while it might be scary, it’s probably not a bad idea to Love Love Love.

(Note: If you’re a pregnant woman, this is written directly to you. If you’re not, this is written to the pregnant women you know, so don’t get all huffy if you’re a guy or a non­preggo lady and I’m talking about your pregnancy. Thanks.)

Yes, and you probably should. Here’s why: Your body is changing and growing every day. Which is great, but can make a lot of things uncomfortable. Things like walking, standing, sitting, lying down, and breathing. Rolfing can help with all of these things, which makes you happier, which, in turn, makes baby happier. It also makes everybody healthier, and calmer when you can breathe.

Any time your body changes significantly, be it during a pubescent growth spurt, significant weight loss or gain, or pregnancy and post-partum, your body might struggle to find balance. I read an article a few years ago about how common it is for pregnant women to topple over. I don’t remember the specifics, but it was very common and the article went on to explain that this doesn’t hurt the baby. But what about the mom? I sure don’t like falling over, as it hurts my pride as well as my knees, and wrists, usually. That’s where Rolfing comes in. I generally recommend a Rolfing session every 3-5 weeks for expecting mothers so we can work with your body as it shifts and find a place of balance, ease, and comfort.

Also, there’s a specific “delivery session” I do to speed up and ease labor. I’ll do this up to a week before your due date and anytime after. The purpose is to open the pelvic floor to make the delivery smoother and less painful, as well as to induce labor. Even if you are planning to induce chemically, you can receive this session just before to augment and ease the process. And who doesn’t want a little more room in their pelvic floor before a delivery? So if you’re looking for a little help either with comfort during your pregnancy or with comfort and speed during your labor, give Rolfing a try. You, and your baby, are worth it!

P.S. Babies need Rolfing, too!

If you think labor is hard on you, just think how tough it must be for your little one. All that pressure on their heads, all the shock of suddenly having to breathe on their own; it’s no wonder babies sleep so much. I see children under 10 for free, so call me to make an appointment for your little one(s) to come in!