Size of Rocks

Daily Movement Prompts, Friday, August 4, 2017 edition: Size of Rocks

Have you heard the story about the professor demonstrating how much volume was in a large jar? First he filled it with big rocks and asked the class, “Is it full?” They said, “yes.” Then he took out small pebbles and poured those in the spaces. He asked again, “Is it full?” Some of them said, “yes.” Then he poured sand in the spaces. He asked again, “Is it full?” And some of them hesitated to answer, “yes?” Then he poured in a liquid. Now the jar was full.

Sometimes this can be a motivational method for how to attack a project. Move the big rocks first. Then pour some pebbles into the spaces. Then pour in the sand. Then pour in the liquid. But I like to also use this as a way to ask myself, “What size rocks of movement can I handle today?”

There are days I can really move the big rocks. I can run and sweat and swim and jump and challenge myself to the toughest dance moves. There are other days when I just work on some of the small pebbles of movement. I can teach the Fundamentals, focus on posture and formations and angles and presentation. There are days when I can just manage to move some sand. I can do my physical therapy, I can stretch on a large exercise ball, I can test the ability of my knee to move. Other days, I’m flat on my back, lucky I can pour some liquid in the jar. Sitting up and walking around the house is an effort, then it’s back to stretching carefully into a comfortable position.

Which size rock of movement can you face today? Can you move the big rocks today? Or are you a melted puddle of liquid, just trying not to slosh too much? It’s all okay. You can choose movement or you can choose rest. Which will you choose today?

(There’s more to the original story. I believe he made comparisons to which things in life matched the metaphor for the big rocks, small pebbles, and sand. And the liquid, in one version of the story, was a beer. He punchline is that after you make room for the big rocks, pebbles, and sand in life, there’s still always room for a beer.)


Daily Movement Prompts, Tuesday, August 1, 2017 edition: Hopefulness

One struggle that some experience when facing injury, depression, or stress is a sense of hopelessness. Maybe it seems like you’ll always be in pain. Or you’ll never feel healthy again. Or why bother moving when it never seems to pay off?

There is a folk story in which a king wanted to find the answer to a riddle: What will make a happy man sad or a sad man happy? It takes him a very long time to find the answer, but in the end it was simply: “This too shall pass.”

Even in the midst of pain and struggle, there can be moments of hopefulness. There were thunderstorms and 100°F temperatures where I live today, and it was oppressive. But just as I got into the car at the end of the day and started to pull away, this double rainbow in today’s image appeared. “This too shall pass.”

How have you experienced hopefulness through movement or activity? Does even a simple walk help you feel like you can tackle things? Does stretching or dancing restore your soul? What hopefulness have you worked toward recently? What hopefulness could you use through a supportive community?

How have you moved today? How will you move tomorrow?

Delayed Effects

Daily Movement Prompts, Friday, July 28, 2017 edition: Delayed Effects

Building long-term goals with incremental skill development can mean that we don’t always see the effects of our work. One class, one workout, one yoga session, one set in the pool or ocean, one more walk or run, one set of stairs, one set of weights, one rehearsal, one drill… in the moment it is hard to see what the single session does.

And sometimes the effect of our movement is delayed until the muscles have had a day or two to absorb the impact. Physical Therapy may not reduce the pain today, but you may feel better a few days later. A challenge to do more squats won’t necessarily show results but you may feel the workout tomorrow morning. Incremental changes in the frequency of your movement may not be obvious for weeks or months. But it adds up.

Does the delay affect you? Are you frustrated when you don’t see results right away? Or do you have a habit of checking your progress after longer intervals? If you’ve been doing movement incrementally for a while now, can you see the delayed effects now that time has passed?

What incremental movement are you working on lately? How will you move today?

Pick a Focus

Daily Movement Prompts, Thursday July 27, 2017 edition: Pick a Focus

Normally, I would insist that I am the poster child for multi-tasking and variety in pursuits. But even though I love to “learn all the things!” I know that I still have to pick what I will focus when it’s time to work on a movement.

In a recent class, I wanted my students to learn a specific leading skill. I reduced the number of moves they could dance, and had them drill the new transitions. At the end of the class, instead of dripping with sweat from a heavy workout, we all felt like we’d spent an hour getting smarter. Rather than focus on a move, they came away with a focus on a team skill.

Any workout, drill, rehearsal, exercise session, or outing could be an opportunity for you to focus. What have you been focusing on? Have you been doing your activities with any special mindfulness? What could you focus on today?

How will you move today?

Small Stitches

Daily Movement Prompts, Tuesday, July 25, 2017 edition: Small Stitches

If you’ve ever done any hand-sewing or clothing repairs, you’ve likely spent time threading a needle and trying to carefully place small stitches so that they both serve their purpose (repair a hole, hold on a button, change a hem, serve to be strong enough to hold seams in place) and look good enough for their purpose (remain invisible if needed, create a decorative effect if desired).

If you’ve never done any hand-sewing, take a moment to look at your shirt cuffs or pant or skirt hems. Would your clothing look different to you if the threads were high-contrast colors versus matching colors? What if the seams were unreliable? Your clothing would literally split at the seams.

What small stitches are needed to bring together the efforts in your daily movement activities? What holds together your actions? Do you need joint flexibility? Do you need increased muscle strength? Do you need specific therapy to recover from injury?

What efforts can you do today to address those issues? What small stitches are needed for specific purpose and to make your movement “look good” to you?

How will you move today?

That Feeling When

Daily Movement Prompts, Saturday, July 22, 2017: That Feeling When

Why do you pursue the movement you do? Each of us has a different reason. Sometimes, it can be summed up as That Feeling When…

  • …you are done working hard and you can relax
  • …you manage to go just a little bit further, or a little bit longer
  • …something that used to hurt doesn’t hurt as much anymore
  • …someone recognizes your dedication
  • …you celebrate your own dedication, regardless what others think
  • …you surprise yourself with a new accomplishment
  • …you can collapse now because you finished what you set out to do
  • …you don’t have to compete if you don’t want to
  • …you have the opportunity to compete when you want to
  • …you get to move because you chose this
  • …you managed to move when it wasn’t your choice
  • …you successfully rested when you knew you needed to step back
  • …you survived a recovery time even when you didn’t want to
  • …you set your own goals at your own pace
  • …you got this

Tell us something about that feeling when… that resonates for you.

How did you move today?

In the Spotlight

Daily Movement Prompts, Friday, July 21, 2017 edition: In the Spotlight


Stages and spotlights have VERY different connotations to different people. If you are wildly uncomfortable on a stage or under a spotlight, I would like to suggest that we flip the imagery for a moment. Rather than other people looking at you, imagine that this empty stage is a private stage. This private moment is about when you look at your own mind and your own thoughts. What happens when you place your own thoughts in the spotlight for yourself?

Are you someone who thinks about your thoughts? Do you examine and re-examine what your goals look like and how you can get there? Or is this a new habit for you?

What do you want to accomplish with your movement choices? Are you building strength? Are you finding peace? Are you working on a competition? Are you looking for medical improvements? Are you looking for fun? Are you building community?

There are so many different elements that can feed our motivation. And if you have committed to motivations that have nothing to do with scales or body size, these are new spotlights. It can be a struggle to get out from under old judgemental thoughts and pressures.

As you choose your movement, may I suggest that you also give yourself a little cheer? I would love to see the whole world start to encourage and reward thoughtful planning for movement choices. How will you move?

Decide for Yourself

Daily Movement Prompts, Thursday, July 20, 2017: Decide for Yourself

I think one of the most empowering ideas I came to about exercise as an adult is that I get to choose and decide for myself what movement I will pursue. While I might find it helpful to engage the advice or services of a trainer or an instructor, even the act of selecting a professional is an act of my own choosing.

Through my day, I decide when and how I can add movement. When my day involves working at a computer and a desk, it is up to me to get up for breaks, stretching, or movement. I have to decide to add extra time in the morning or evening for drills, going on a walk or a run, heading to the pool, running a workout DVD or YouTube video, going to a gym, or completing a work-out at home.

If your daily or weekly schedule seems overrun, it might be that you have some decisions to make. Can you start with something small for a while? Could you decide to take five minutes for your movement of choice? Can you set a consistency goal for that new habit? Maybe you start with five minutes daily, six times per week. After one week, you extend that to six minutes per day.

You get to decide. What decisions have you made today for pursuing movement? How will you set your own goals? How can we cheer you as you accomplish your goals?

Small Accomplishments

Daily Movement Prompts, Wednesday, July 19, 2017: Small Accomplishments

After some nagging pains and stressful days, my dance partner and I had an awesome working rehearsal this evening. I felt like I was floating on our accomplishments afterwards.

What is it about small accomplishments that can lift our spirits? Sometimes, it can be simply getting chores done at home which frees up some time for the exercise or rehearsal or movement I wanted to go do. Sometimes it’s a sense of just showing up for the workout I needed. Other times it can be an exhausted conclusion, “At least I didn’t die doing this,” or simply, “at least I lasted as long as I did.”

Have you found a small achievement today or this week? Have you paused to acknowledge, “Hey, I *did* accomplishment something,” and that’s worth your thankfulness?

How have you moved today? How will you move tomorrow?

Happy Sweat

Daily Movement Prompts, Tuesday, July 18, 2017: Happy Sweat

One possible element of someone’s work-out experience can be “that rush” or an overwhelming joy in an activity. I’ve been in several different conversations with various friends lately about how each person experiences different movement choices with different measures of love for the activity.

For example, I was showing my physical therapist the format of my dance style and the core posture and family of movements, so that he could evaluate which exercises I needed to do for my knees. The moment I stopped my demo for him, I could feel my knee pain again. And I noticed I had *not* felt the pain as strongly while I was doing my demo.

I’ve experimented with two forms of bladed weapon styles: one is a full-contact, non-choreographed heavy weapons sword style with solid blades made of rattan, and the other is a blunted metal, non-choreographed historical rapier sword style. I tried each of them in two different times in my life, thinking that maybe I just hadn’t given it enough of a chance to really fall in love with the fighting. And after four experiments with going to practices, being in armor, working out with swords, I had to conclude that I just didn’t ever click with the styles. Specifically, I didn’t enjoy those movements enough to get sweaty doing them.

When I had that moment in the physical therapist’s office, noticing that while in my dance form I didn’t feel my knee pain as strongly, I felt excited. My love for my favorite dance form must be similar to my friends’ love for their sword fighting. My conclusion is that I found my “Happy Sweat.” I enjoy the dance itself so much that I don’t mind getting sweaty while practicing. I feel accomplished at the end of a hard sweat on the dance floor.

I listen to how some of my runner friends talk about their experiences, and for most of them, running is their “happy sweat.” I know that I enjoyed working hard at swimming years ago because I didn’t feel sweaty while swimming.

This won’t hold true for every person. You may never find a “sweaty” activity that you truly love doing. You might be doing exercises and movement choices based entirely on other goals and reasons.

But for some of us, it is a relief to find the activity that puts us in a state of “happy sweat,” where we endure the hard work and the sweat because we *love* that activity. It is my hope for you that you find movement choices you love.

How will you move today? How have you felt lately about your movement choices?