three little changes

March 9th, 2017
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As I’ve written before, January 1 is not my time for making New Year’s resolutions. No, if I’m going to make a resolution it’s going to be in February. After the rush of the holidays I need some time to regroup and clear my head. By February I’ve had some time to think about what I want the year to be like for me, and to plan on how to implement.

This year I decided to give the month of February over to not just one, but three changes. But they were going to be super small changes, and I was only going to hold myself to them for the month (it helped that February is the shortest month…).

I’ve come to the realization that it’s the minor – almost imperceptible – adjustments that we make to our day-to-day that can often have the biggest impact. Bonus points for their being easier to sustain too, as they are not seismic shifts.

So what were my three changes?

1. Read more books.

2. Drink more water.

3. Return to mMeditateion.

Books

Ah, books. I was always – up till just a few years ago – an avid reader. I always had a book in-hand, taking it with me wherever I went. I read while waiting on line at the store, waiting in a doctor’s office, waiting for Noah. But recently I’ve found myself more and more on my phone – scrolling through Instagram, reading e-mails, playing (and losing) Words With Friends with my mom. And that has made me very sad. I even have a document with a running list of books to read, and I was mortified to see how long it had been since I’d checked off a title.

The goal: carry a book with me everywhere, and reach for it – not my phone – during any “down time”.

Where to start? I am a serial book-club drop-out so this was not an option. I decided that the best course would be to simply return to my list and start at the top. At the top was this book. Big mistake. Huge. I like dark, and I don’t need a neatly tied-up ending. But this was too much, even for me. I was haunted by it for days afterward and couldn’t have been more pleased to find this book next on the list:

roz chast

I have LOVED Roz Chast forever. And while, yes, this memoir chronicles her elderly parents’ final years, it does so in typical Roz Chast fashion – with warmth, humor and her wonderful illustrations. I highly recommend it. This one’s up next – have you read it?

Water

Beyond cliched, I know. But I put it on my “to-do” list because I wanted to hold myself accountable for drinking more water each day, and I felt that if I made it part of my February resolutions I’d be more inclined to stick with it.

The goal: drink (8) 8-ounce servings of water every day.

strawberry water

I gave myself a head start each morning by drinking 2 of those servings before indulging in my beloved daily iced coffee, and 2 more on the ride to and from Noah’s school. So by 9 a.m. I’m halfway there. And I’ll say that just being conscious of the goal each day made me more aware of drinking and refilling.

Meditation

So meditation and I have a bit of history. Years ago I went through the somewhat lengthy process of learning Transcendental Meditation. You can learn more about TM here, but one of the basic expectations is that you sit, twice a day, for 20 minutes. Which I was really good about in the beginning. But after a while I went down to once a day. And then I stopped completely. I felt AWFUL. At first. And then I just kind of forgot about it.

Fast forward to about a year ago, when a friend turned me on to a meditation app. I was curious. And ultimately quite impressed. The graphics were adorable, and there were a ton of options to suit any goals – as well as time constraints. And it just felt…………..doable. So I signed up for a trial period. And then made one small, but critical error. Which was meditating at night. And if you think that it “might” be ill-advised to do something late at night that requires you to close your eyes, well, you’d be absolutely right. I fell asleep almost every time and eventually stopped even trying.

But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was missing out on an opportunity. So I added it to my February list.

The goal: meditate for 10 minutes every morning.

calm app

I crowd sourced on Facebook and settled on the Calm app. And I made a commitment to do it every morning for the month. I set my alarm for 15 minutes earlier, to make sure I gave myself enough time to meditate without encroaching on my morning routine.

So, how did it all go????

Like many of you, I am a social media junkie. My go-to move, given more than 30 seconds of down time, is to grab my phone. So I was most skeptical of this change, as the habit was hard-won.

But having a book right within reach – especially one that I was enjoying – really did make it easier to not look at my phone as much. And for me it was like riding a bike – the ease and pleasure of reading came back instantly, and I have no doubt that I will be able to continue plowing through my list.

The water resolution was kind of an experiment, to see if I noticed any changes to my skin – especially around my face and hands – with more disciplined drinking. And there was definitely a difference. It sounds so cliched to say but my skin seemed to look and feel “better”, and I am much more conscientious about consuming my daily quota.

Now the meditation? That was the biggest surprise. I honestly put very little stock into the notion that – for 10 minutes a day – I would experience any kind of change. But on the very first morning, after I opened my eyes and stood up, I was immediately aware of how much better I felt. I typically get out of bed feeling like a 90-year-old woman – heavy head, stiff limbs, practically hunched over. #notpretty

But on that very first morning? None of that. No heaviness, no stiffness. Even my sinuses felt clearer. And this was all before exercising, showering and that must-have cup of coffee. I dismissed it as a one-off, something that would not – could not – be sustained. But it has. And I firmly believe it has set me up for the rest of the day in a way that I didn’t feel before. And the best part is that I now look forward to those 10 minutes, versus looking at it as a chore, something I “had” to do. It sounds so small, right? If I could do 10 minutes once a day, was it really so much of a stretch to go for 20 minutes twice?

For right now, the answer is yes. And I circle back to the beginning of this post, where I posited the notion of tiny changes making a big impact. Because now I could actually consider going back to my original TM practice. Or not. But had I not tried something that was more sustainable (and I did keep it up for the month, and now into March), I wouldn’t be meditating at all right now.

I’d love to know how you all tackle change. Do you work on one goal at a time, or multiple goals? And do you go for big, sweeping changes or do you start small?

9 Responses to “three little changes”

  • I hear you on the phone taking over (my interpretation!). I’ve removed FB and twitter from my phone. Forgot my IG log in password so that’s remained silent on my phone as well. I STILL grab it to check email and also Feedly. Gah….

    Social media is a huge time suck when it’s just a time filler. And I don’t like modeling that for my daughter.

    Meditation is amazing! And I’ve finished a 21 day yoga challenge that was similar. Only 20 minutes a day online. Huge impact.

    Overall I’m purposing to be engaged in the world more and less online this year. I’m getting there little by little…

    • You’ve definitely been a role model for me for a while now in that department. You “left” blogging (gasp!) and always seem to be so mindful about all of your decisions. It inspires me. What is the yoga program you used? xoxo

      • The yoga program is the 21 day one by Schuyler Grant on Wanderlusttv. It was free early this year and now you can purchase it. Streaming only and each is about 21 minutes long. Takes you from the beginning and adds poses each day.

        I don’t know your yoga experience but I did a LOT for many years til I had a rotator cuff injury in 2013 – slightly bad form caught up with me. This series was my way back in (that and working out with my personal trainer/physiotherapist 2x a week).

        And the leaving blogging – funnily enough, I still “feel” like a blogger even though I haven’t blogged in years! Hah!

    • So funny because I was just telling my family Sandra about your 30 day meditation when you woke up project on IG and how much of an impression it made on me. As I was also speaking of Sheri’s three things. So I am thinking of you both and sharing your wisdom and experiences. And that is the only and best thing that social media is for in my world.
      Thank you ladies.

  • Love love love. You are practicing the wisdom I admire. The smallest stuff can make the biggest difference. All of these practices are so doable and kind. Thank you for your inspiration Sheri.
    Love,
    Shalagh

  • I just finished Hillbilly Elegy and found it enlightening. I was drawn to it because my kin migrated to Illinois from Kentucky in the 1930s to work in a new GE plant. A lot of the book was familiar to stories I heard as a kid.

    The Roz Chaz book is on my stack of books yet to be read. (I highly recommend the Bruce Springsteen bio!)

    Re small stuff, my wife and I joined Weight Watchers in January and are losing weight (33 lbs between the two of us so far) which feels sooo good. Going to weekly meetings became a routine and we’ve missed only two. Eating better, too.

    Another routine has been harder to restart – exercising! I had been walking my dog daily until she passed away last August and it made me sad to walk alone. The weather was an easy excuse, too. But the stationary bike kept staring at me so I started with 15 mins last week with the intention of several days a week first thing in the morning.
    3 times so far and determined to work up to EVERY morning.

    Working on more water…

    • Rick! Thanks for sharing this. And good for you for taking care of your diet and exercise. So sorry about your dog. 🙁 I can’t wait to start Hillbilly Elegy; I’m embarrassed to admit I got sidetracked reading “Big Little Lies”……… Do you remember when I called you about starting a blog??

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