my non-routine routine

A little self-footsie massage.

A little self-footsie massage.

As some of you may know, I have a long and complicated history with routines, especially those of the self-care variety.

In fact, I was 'this close' to restructuring my whole business model based on the premise that popular offerings of "self-care tips" were maddening, if not downright condescending to those of us who had actual lives.

I'm glad I didn't. Because the inconvenient truth is taking care of ourselves really is important. And that it does actually take time.

Lest you think I would have been suggesting that self-care should be tossed out the window because it's too hard, what I was really going for was how to fit it in into one's life around what we're already doing, rather than stress over how to make time to do one more dang thing.

I think what stayed my hand was my own body, reminding me that months, and even years of increasing discomfort and diminishing energy was not going to be appeased for self-care stuffed in around the cracks of my life.

Doing things for my own good was still tinged with resentment no matter what I wanted to call it, and my body had had enough. It mattered … to me and to the people that depend on me and care about me. And I was the only person who could do this for myself.

So, I sat down one day, clearly and consciously deciding that my health was indeed a priority. As such, it would be what I would build my schedule around -  not vice versa.

I identified what I most needed on any given day and planned those things first: What I would eat. (I suck at meal planning!) What I would say yes to in the spaces between what I was obligated to do. What thoughts and input would I entertain and dwell on. Obvious stuff like that.

Not every day works out as planned, but something shifted dramatically when I put my desire to feel as good as possible at the top of the list.

So, when I was asked by a participant in yesterday's class, what, if anything, was my regular routine (regarding moving, exercising…), I smiled to myself, because I still don't really have one*.

To explain, after stumbling onto Katy Bowman, I have been immersing myself in everything she's ever written, videotaped, podcasted - sure, for the purpose of expanding my practice, but also, for my own well-being.

Her approaches to alignment and natural movement have totally affirmed what I discovered a long time ago: that exercise 'routines' are mostly trying to fill a void created by our sedentary environments. We are designed to move. All the time. In a multitude of directions. As well as sit and rest with mostly the earth and our own physical structure as sole support.

Ironically, it's the routine part that's the problem, in that we do a few of the same things too much of the time, and not nearly enough of everything else we could and should be doing.

So, that's what I do. I get up a lot, stretch, squat, hang, walk, sit on the floor, carry, move, pay attention to my body mechanics and prompts for food and water and rest always. I notice when unnecessary thoughts or input are causing me anxiety. My life has become one continuous self-care routine. It's wonderful.

And my free-spirited routine rebellion is quite appeased.
*I do actually have one 'formal' routine: In the spirit of encouraging my partner to move a bit more, we agreed to expand our morning 'coffee-in-bed' ritual to include the sitting set of the Eight Pieces of Brocade qigong form.

There is a place for routines like qigong and yoga that help us to cultivate expansion, intentionality, mindfulness, and discipline, and for which the benefits are cumulative.