Saturday, September 12, 2015

Habit Stacks

Month two of Power 30 so far:
Week 1 - under the bus
Week 2 - goodbye bus, getting up

So like I said, I am really focused on self-care for this challenge. Sooo many things about self-care are like, oh that's a nice idea, drive on by! Listen, self-care is just like exercise: the best self-care (or exercise) is whatever self-care, however small, that you actually do. Paying lip service to self-care, well actually, is a step toward self-care, but the next step is shall we say foot service. And right away you can shoot yourself in the foot by taking on too much (just like with exercise).

So, foot service: things that I am actually going To Do for self-care.
Not shooting myself in the foot: really little things.

I have these things organized into "habit stacks." Do you remember when Shabby Chic was all the rage? The Shabby Chic lady said a thing back then about how to make shabby look chic, something like, Three things make a story and not, presumably, a pile of junk. So like, I have a morning story, and an NEW! afternoon story, an evening story, and a bedtime story in neat little stacks:

# drink water
/ do 750 words
// walk or bike or do yoga

This story I started when I started Power 30, and it has saved my life. Water is elemental, you've heard a million times that humans are mostly water. You dehydrate a little bit when you sleep, through respiration. Drinking water to me is like adding the human back or topping off the human or whatever. You can't take a walk in the blogosphere (including in this blog) without tripping over Drink warm water with lemon; but if you ask me now, the warm and the lemon are just decorations. It's the water, man.

If humans are mostly water, I am mostly ...words. I wonder if I respire words in my sleep, maybe that's what dreams are. Do you know what I think though, this depression was me dying from lack of words. Words are also kind of like water in that... like you know how when you're dehydrated, you hate water? I mean, I think that's where the lemon comes in. I felt like I didn't need writing the way I used to feel like I didn't need water. Once you drink the water, with or without lemon, you wake up the water demon, which is to say the human, and now I'm passing through How Odd, I Actually Want Water to Obviously, Water. Though for water that took years, for writing it was maybe a week—if not a day— from How Odd, I Actually Want Words to Obviously, Words. YMMV!

Last but not least, life is movement. So it's very nice for me to start the day with a little bit of movement. On the one hand, I'm the world's biggest fan of whole day movement: if you get out of bed and walk to the shower, that is movement. There's no level below which it doesn't count, it all counts. Your whole day movement counts more than the thirty or sixty or even hundred and twenty minutes a day you spend "working out," not saying that a hundred and twenty minutes a day isn't a lot, but it's not more than a thousand, four hundred and forty minutes—though presumably for four hundred and eighty of those minutes you're sleeping. On the other hand, and this is what's positive about working out, I want to this to be a mindful nod to movement like working out is. So MWThF I take the walk and bike that I already do and just add mindfulness, and that's the level of movement I'm looking for. Because I am going to run a half marathon when I get out of bed never. TuSa sun salutations fit the bill though they are actually quite hard, I will be working on these for a long while. I'm still figuring out what to do Sunday. (And I don't think that Sunday needs to be a day of rest, in this case. Of course you do need rest days from working out, but you can move every day. You do move every day.)

} be curious and present

I had initially put /gratitude here, and it made me angry. Haha. So I deleted that and since then, this idea of being curious and present has really come into its own. The idea here is to have lunch and then do just a little something-something kind of again like a mindful nod to self-care and connection, and also I guess something different than scrolling through Facebook and Feedly, which was my default. I'm not reflexively negative about social media or screen time, I think there's good and bad in everything and the cloud is like home to me in a lot of ways. But. Sitting on the stoop with Biggie or with the sweetie man, or going out to lunch with my really nice co-workers. Or singing a song (not at work). Or a dance break, I love to dance and do you know in the depth of my depression Athena posted this really great self-care PDF and one of the things was to dance... and I did not want to dance. Sort of like when you hate water, I guess. Do you know what about Fury weekend though, I danced.

Not only has this been a lovely spot in the day for discovery, but also I think this has improved my ability to GTD in the afternoon. Which I had not been doing for a long while, that was where the CSI was coming in.

There's nothing wrong, by the way, with collapsing and watching a lot of CSI. There's this article doing the rounds about Ignoring Your Feelings and focusing on what you have to do. I will always say different strokes for different folks; but as for me, I'm real good at focusing on what I have to do and when that falls apart, then I have to shell out for a therapist to even realize that I'm sad that I'm done with roller derby. Even though Obviously, Roller Derby is totally a place that people have told me about! Sometimes what you have to do is feel your feelings and when you do, it's a serious To Do like on a To Do list and it pushes other things off the list. Because it's important.

\\ tidy bedroom
:: meditate
\\ tidy kitchen

Every day now.

\\ fill water
\\ sheets temp lights
# stretch
/ gratitude

I initially made this stack too big and wrote to myself, Your stack doesn't have to be a Dagwood sandwich. I like a sandwich that fits in my mouth, personally. The essential things that need to happen are:

  1. I have to fill the jar that I'm going to drink my water from the next morning.
  2. I have to be mindful about turning things down so that I can go to sleep, but these can be a set of little grace notes, a little bit of night music.
  3. I do really like to stretch, just a little bit. Remember the best exercise being the exercise that you actually do, the best amount of exercise is the amount that you actually do. An hour—or in all honesty, fifteen minutes— of stretching is stretching that I'm not going to do. But like, two minutes of stretching in bed every night is going to add up like woah. I mean, I don't time it. I just play with whatever stretch I'm playing with at the moment. For a while I was doing PNF stretching of my hamstrings, let me tell you that is witchcraft. I just changed to these 90-90 hip openers from Onnit. Generally by the end, I get excited and do headstands up the headboard but I don't actually recommend that. I don't think it's entirely safe. Headstands on fleek, though.
  4. Finally, I put gratitude here and first I thought, Rule of threes. Is this not one too many. But actually I have been training to fours lately with the breath counting, maybe gratitude can be that last exhale of the day. Then I thought, I prefer gratitude to be random. But seriously, what would be wrong with routine gratitude. Besides, I made this form.

Speaking of night music, I was wrestling with Turn down brain because surely turning down the sheets and temp and lights, and stretching, and being grateful, were sufficient to turn down my brain, but really because you were going to have to pry my nightly episode of CSI out of my cold, dead hands. Again I'm not reflexively against watching TV to fall asleep, as long as it's not stimulating. CSI though is lit generally dark but punctuated with flashes of light and also is generally quiet compared to most police shows but punctuated with The Who's Who Are You which has very loud guitar riffs. So I would drift asleep to the sound of them, you know, running DNA, and then wake up to the flashes of light or dunnn-DUN-DUNNN. So I switched to Carl Sagan's Cosmos, which I know nothing about because I've never stayed awake more than four minutes in.