Taking Stock

Daily Movement Prompts, Saturday, July 1, 2017 edition: Taking Stock

Are any of you in the habit of setting goals for a year and doing a thoughtful review every three months or so? I went to a workshop in January where we made some big goals and dreams in brainstorming lists, and then we wrote letters to ourselves to open on April 1, July 1, and October 1. The assignment was to encourage our future selves.

I opened my July 1 letter today, and it reminded me how my brain was working January. I’ve made some adjustments over the past almost six months, and I’d forgotten a few things since January.

Last month at the beginning of June, I suggested you make a goal for the month. If you did, how are things going? Did you spend your June the way you’d hoped? Have you made some progress along your goals? Does goal setting and dreaming big work for you? Have you given it a try lately?

One suggestion I would like to make today: Balance love and forgiveness for yourself with any challenges and motivations you are embracing. Sometimes we can swing far in one direction or another. You might “buckle down” and try to “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” and then rarely remember to forgive yourself or show yourself appreciation and love for the work you *have* done, even if you didn’t hit a goal you were aiming for. Or you might be comfortable in your habits and forget to challenge yourself. (Although sometimes that’s *exactly* the goal you were aiming for: Letting go of the heavy pressures and learning to embrace a slower pace, especially in a time of recovery.)

If this works for you today, give it a try. Take stock in how January through June went, or even just the past four weeks, and congratulate yourself for the movement, activities, and habits you’ve accomplished. And if making goals and plans works for you, write something down about the next four weeks, next six months, or whatever time frame interests you. Write yourself a physical letter, seal it up, and write the date when you should open it. Write yourself something encouraging, to warm your heart later when you open the letter. Make a note on the calendar to remind you when the letter should be opened (and where you hid it “in a safe place”).

And let’s encourage each other. How did you move today? How will you move tomorrow? What kind of encouragement can you share with us?

Should vs Want

Daily Movement Prompts, Friday, June 30, 2017 edition: Should vs Want

I am amazed sometimes how pervasive the “old voices” can be in our heads. I witnessed an unusual exchange online this week. A fitness professional was being very encouraging and sharing a message of how we can start with the body we have right now. And someone responded with a list of, “I need to do XYZ…” and “I know I should do XYZ…” remarks.

Need. Should. Lots of old voices. And I could completely recognize those old patterns in my head and in my history, too.

And in thinking about it, rather than, “I need to…” or, “I should…” I like to ask myself, “Do I want to?” Because then it makes more sense when I expand the conversation to include the wants. “Do I want to climb stairs without pain? Yes, therefore I will do my knee PT exercises that I hate. Because I *want* knee improvement.” Or, “Do I want more dance stamina? Yes. Therefore, I will dance one more drill because it will keep building my stamina.” Do I want to run? Someday, yes. But right now I want to walk without a limp. And I am okay that my current practices *do* have me almost completely limp free. I can set my next goals!

Have you found yourself making plans for exercise, movement, or activity based on a sense of obligation, “I need to do XYZ… I should do XYZ…” and it’s not something that you have a paired interest in? You’re only doing it because you think someone told you that you NEED to do XYZ? You have the freedom to have any motivation you want, please let me confirm this. But some pressures are not rooted in evidence-based medical research. I love to promote non-scale goals: Stamina for an activity, increased flexibility, improved mobility, or continued strength building. Or maybe you have a medical number that you want to influence, and your movement habits can affect those lab results.

Is there a goal that you *want* and can you define it with a non-scale measure of success? Is this a want that can help you avoid old pressures from shame or “needs” imposed by others on you?

How did you move today? How will you move tomorrow?

Tools vs Process

Daily Movement Prompts, Wednesday, June 28, 2017 edition: Tools vs Process

I happen to do a lot of crafty, textiles things like spinning thread or yarn from fluff and some niche weaving styles. I took an intensive, 18-hours of instruction two months ago, focused on the textiles of the indigenous people in the Andes Mountains in Peru. The instruction was delivered mostly through storytelling and demonstration and included our teacher’s childhood experience living in this part of the world. One of the most unique observations she offered us is that in that indigenous culture, they tended toward process-based solutions for their textiles. In contrast, Western European cultures had a history of tool-based solutions for their textiles. So the typical Western European cultures will invent new tools to improve a process. But the Andean indigenous methods could create elaborate weaving processes with the simplest of tools.

I continue to meditate on this concept: Is this a tool-based solution to my problem or is this a process-based solution? It applies nicely to some of my movement questions. Do I need equipment to work these muscles? Or is there an activity I could do that would be equally effective? I used to also ask myself, “Can I do this movement for free?”

(It also applies to writing these prompts: When I have a desktop computer for my tool, the effort takes a shorter time to complete. I first penned this on Saturday on my phone as I was falling asleep and haven’t had the time until today to complete it!)

What Movement or Activity goals have you worked on or thought about that seem to need specific tools? Are there any process-based solutions that could help you move more the way you intend?

How did you move today? How will you move tomorrow?

Any Body

Daily Movement Prompts, Friday, June 23, 2017 edition: Any Body

A friend told me today how she ends up in conversations about “which body shape can do XYZ.” While I know that extremely elite athletes can often have similar, nearly identical body shapes, the type of body that can work toward any movement is usually “any body.” Who can dance? Skinny, fat, tall, short — you don’t have to be only one specific body shape to be “allowed” to dance. Which body can swim? Which can run? Which can do rock climbing? Which body can do yoga?

Any Body.

Sure, you may have to do modifications to some of your movement. You may have to be more cautious with some of your movement. Your learning curve might take longer. Your body shape might give you limitations in flexibility or reach.

What movement or activity has someone tried to discourage you from? How did you decide to react? Did you give up on your idea? Did you overcome the objections of others?

How did you move today? How will you move tomorrow?

Arrive When You Arrive

Daily Movement Prompts, Thursday, June 22, 2017 edition: Arrive When You Arrive

Have you ever heard the suggestion that rather than say, “I’m sorry I was late,” that you might say, “Thank you for waiting for me.” Sometimes we are taught to apologize for almost everything (which may ring true more for women than men in current American culture) but I have always appreciated this alternate look at thanking someone else for having patience for my schedule.

Thank you all for your patience for these Daily Posts.

I was driving up to an event in the mountains today, and as I spent considerable time in traffic, I kept thinking of the phrase, “I will be there when I arrive.” This is something I have been trying to teach myself, as I navigate the heavy traffic in Los Angeles for the past several decades. I could plan better, I could be angry that the traffic has delayed me, or I could be frustrated and disappointed in myself. In the moment, I try to spend more time acknowledging that these are just the circumstances of my drive this time.

Why am I talking about being late? Have you ever been frustrated with your progress with exercise, activity, or movement? Maybe it’s time to have patience with yourself. Maybe instead of being frustrated, you could acknowledge that you will arrive when you arrive, and maybe even say thank you for your own patience for your own progress.

How did you move today? How will you move tomorrow?

Sending Encouragement

Daily Movement Prompts, Tuesday, June 20, 2017 edition: Sending Encouragement

Have you ever had a friend check in with you out of the blue and it really made your day? It might be a text, a phone call, a silly sticker on a Facebook page, or maybe they live locally and they dropped in for tea or coffee. Those little connections can really make all the difference in the world.

How about you? Have you done this for someone lately? Is there someone in your circles of family or friends or even just casual acquaintances who you could encourage? Specifically, I was thinking about the kind of encouragement that acknowledges their uniqueness and how they are special to you. Maybe they’ve been struggling to get out and move. Maybe they’ve been overcoming obstacles and really making a dent in life. Maybe they’ve encouraged you to get moving, and you’d like to say thank you. Maybe they seem to have life all together, but you just want to give them a high-five.

None of us is an island. Just witness why you may have joined this list in the first place: You were interested in being prompted to keep moving, keep growing, keep improving.

Who can you send encouragement to today? You don’t even need to tell anyone. You can support someone in secret and just be that bright spot in someone’s day. I’d like to encourage you and prompt you today to be the person who reaches out.

Go. Put a smile on someone’s face. And just maybe this might be the connection that improves part of the world today. I am fairly certain the world could use it.

Comforting Repetition

Daily Movement Prompts, Saturday, June 17, 2017 edition: Comforting Repetition

Yesterday, I started asking, “Do you find comfort in repetition? Or do you chafe under repetition as boring? When each day rolls around, is it exciting to repeat your movement habits?” And then I examined many different ways to find variety in the same activities, over and over.

A friend wrote me to say that variability is *not* their pursuit: Enjoying the same thing the same way each time is soothing. And this reminded me to think about the comfort in repetition. Many of us are *not* bored doing the same thing over and over. [If you are bored and you need ideas, yesterday’s post was for you.]

So let’s think about the comfort in repetition and the joy that can be found in this. Some habits are ways to reduce stress. You know exactly what your moves will be. You may be able to stop thinking so hard about technique and let muscle memory take over. You can relax as the routine set before you is an old friend, something you know well and feel safe appreciating.

You may be running or walking a path you’ve tread before. You know each turn, you know each hill. You may be climbing walls or rocks, and the surety of your reach and grip is reassuring. You may be dancing and the music is ingrained in your body, the moves a natural extension of what you are hearing. You may be lifting weights and the muscle routine feels right and good. You may be swimming laps or swimming in the ocean, and being immersed in the water always restores you.

How do you find comfort in your movement? How did you move today? How will you move tomorrow? May we cheer you on in *your* goals and pursuits?

Same Ol’ Same Ol’

Daily Movement Prompts, Friday June 16, 2017 edition: Same Ol’ Same Ol’

Do you find comfort in repetition? Or do you chafe under repetition as boring? When each day rolls around, is it exciting to repeat your movement habits? Is there something reassuring about the same yoga routine or tai chi patterns or going for a walk or out on a run? Do you enjoy the predictability of a dance drill that you’ve done before or the simplicity of swimming laps?

Do you notice new things in each repetition? Or do you have variability built into your routines that help keep things fresh?

Some movement lends itself to variety easily. Going climbing at the gym, you might take a new route up the wallk or you might still be trying to conquer a section that has been stumping you. If you walk, run, or bicycle regularly, you could take different routes and vary the number of hills you take. Even outdoor routes at different times of day can freshen up the workout. Dancers can vary the music, the moves, even the emotional presentation that you’re working on.

If you’re using weights and machinery, you can vary the order, the speed, the intensity, the repetitions, and the weights on any exercise. If you’re focusing on stretching and flexibility workouts, you can vary the time spent in any pose or stretch, as well as vary the order of your routine.

What movement do you have planned today? What movement could you work on that you hadn’t planned? What rest and recovery do you have in mind?

Organized to be Lazy

Daily Movement Prompts, Thursday, June 15, 2017 edition: Organized to be Lazy

Friends who observe me in a frenzy of activity sometimes lament that they aren’t as organized as I am. I usually reply that it is completely movitated by laziness. And they aren’t sure what I mean.

When I set things up in advance, it’s so that I can be lazy later. I also joke that I love when “Past Me” is thinking about “Future Me.” When “Present Me” reaps the benefits, I’m always thankful to “Past Me.”

For example, if you set up your clothing at night for the next morning, then when you get up, you’re already ready to put on those clothes. You’ve saved time in the morning with your setup at night. Or if you always put your keys on a hook by the door, then you spend no time looking for them. They are right there.

The main reason I try to be organized is so that I can be casually lazy later. The work was already done in advance. I like to pack my dance bag neatly because when I race into class, everything is already sorted and on top, ready for my use. I like to set alarms on my calendar on my phone, so when I need to know there’s a task to do or an appointment to keep, the pop-up reminder already has the directions, phone numbers, and packing lists right there.

Do you ever set things up in advance to save time later? Does this affect your ability to do movement or exercise or activities? Are there any steps you could take today to help future you?

Moving Purposefully

Daily Movement Prompts, Wednesday, June 14, 2017 edition: Moving Purposefully

Often people will engage in two different types of movement in their life: On-going regular movement and purposeful movement. On-going regular movement might be observed with a pedometer as you walk through your day. Purposeful movement could include going outside for a walk that is in addition to your regular schedule.

I would like to strongly suggest that your regular movement should never be discounted as less worthy or not as helpful as intentional exercise or workouts. Certainly when you are getting started on awareness of movement, it can be extremely helpful to celebrate this regular movement in your life. And whenever we are recovering from injury, regular movement can no longer be assumed. Movement during times of recovery is very purposeful.

When you have found that regular movement in your normal day is not enough challenge for you and you want to do more, or you have very specific goals that you are working toward, then it usually requires that you determine how to use the time available in your day for those purposeful activities. Sometimes we need to be extremely creative to fit purposeful movement into a very full schedule. You might not be able to find an hour block of time together, but maybe you can find four separate blocks of 15-minutes each.

To move purposefully, you decide how and when. Even if your life seems mostly out of your personal control, there just might be ways to choose your purposeful movement.

How did you move today? How will you move tomorrow?