“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
The writer for chapter nine Seth Fertenbaugh, ended March’s chapter with this quote of Lao Tzu’s. I kept it with me throughout the month of March and am bringing it back for April as I am in need of a motivational mantra.
Getting active and staying that way has definitely been a serious challenge for me. To be honest, I have not used my running shoes for anything other than hiking and hoola hooping since my last attempt at a “get in shape routine” back in June of last year (check out Chapter One). Unlike this month, Chapter One writer Joe barraged me with a plethora of things to think about, do and not do concerning my body. It was a great way to try physical activities out and explore the world of healthy living. I jumped into a jump rope journal, went jogging, and started a new diet while at the same time, practiced my muscle memory and sensory awareness. Phew! Just reading all those requests in chapter one raised my heart rate!
Unfortunately, very few of the activities from that month became a part of my daily life. The running obviously did not stick (I still hate running to this day), the 15 minutes of planned exercise a day did not stick either. Even my beloved jump rope journal breaks did not stick. So did anything from my first chapter stay a part of my daily life? Yes! I am still mindful in thinking about and keeping to my diet on a daily basis.
How did I do it? Well, I took small steps and merely simplified the diet rather than doing a complete overhaul. I chose a few good meals (that I liked) and repeated them over and over throughout the weeks. The repetition of the choices may have made have led some people to have tired taste buds but I knew that after developing a habit of only eating these good things in a moderate way, that I could eventually expand to new things in healthier ways.
The diet really started to take hold when I also became more aware of how my dietary choices not only affected my own health but also affected my environment (check out Chapter 3). Realizing that my choices of what I put into my body affected the local economy, my local water quality, and climate made me check in with my decision process once again. And finally, when I realized that my new diet had started to make me feel better physically and emotionally, it was a done deal – a life change made.
In Chapter four I was led to check in with myself in another way. Chapter Writer Amy Rothstein asked me to begin mediating twice daily, once in the morning and at once at night. I actually had to time my meditation sessions! And write down my experiences with the process. Doing this ritual for 30 days straight really helped it sink into my every day routine. Meditation has now become a simple and repetitive ritual that I don’t even think about doing. Another life change that is working for me. I have stayed true to this practice and have felt better and better each day, with this new addition in my life. Meditation has become my best way of dealing with internal stress and outside drama that in the past has led to negative heart-racing episodes.
In this particular time of transition and change in my life again, I find myself in South-Central Pennsylvania wondering what is next? How do I navigate? How will I handle the next steps? Could creating a simple daily habit of raising my heart beat in positive ways affect my life as much as the other simple life changes that I have made in the past year? Well if I have learned anything this year, it is that letting go of trying to have control over external situations outside my immediate self is not helpful or useful. The process of “letting go” is rewarding and controlling the few things in my life that relate to myself and my body is helping and is useful!
This month’s chapter writer Dawn provided me with the most simple and direct chapter yet during in this entire Living Chapter’s process. I believe that it may be exactly what I need at this precise moment to make the changes I need to. She said,
“Make the exercise something simple that you enjoy. – Something that is repetitive might work best for this.”
I have taken her words to heart and have enacted my promise daily. Each morning I wake up before doing anything for anyone (or even anything else for myself). I give this 15 minutes of my morning, before the rush of the day starts, to my running shoes. No – I have not by a miracle started running! I am doing what I love… walking! Each morning, (early) my shoes are taking me walking very briskly to a lovely spot that I have chosen near my mother’s house about 15 minutes away. During the walk I use the time to (not make a plan for my day as Dawn suggested) but allow my walk to plan my day…the forward motion of the walk has become my morning meditation. I just changed the form of my still meditation and pushed it forward into motion. It’s not, hard-core athletic regiment but so far… it feels pretty good.
I am convinced that mediation is playing a great role in balancing my emotional, and mental states. I also believe strongly that a strong body and heart can only help the mind and spirit as well. Let’s see how it helps balance me out…. and let’s see if I can stick with this physical routine and slow the pace of my stressed racing heart by picking up the pace of my meditative heart. Step by step.