I find god in moments of my own silence.
I wake and:
- Cover my vanity mirror with a cloth napkin…
- Take down the mirror from my closet door and lean it in reverse against the large mirror in my (small NYC) foyer…
- Tuck a towel around the medicine cabinet mirror in the bathroom…
- Tuck away the tiny hanging mirror inside my walk-in closet…
- And fold down the mirror in my jewelry box.
There seems to now be less light in my space. It’s eight am, and I realize I would have already checked my reflection twice. I have no idea how puffy my morning skin looks. Or if the ensemble I throw on in my sleepy-eyed haze will appear to my neighbors when Mitra and I walk.
But the brush bristles meeting my scalp feel so satisfying.
I hadn’t ordered takeout since January 1st. Before that, it was a day in December, down at my friend Erin’s. Before that, sometime in August. I’ve had a guilt complex regarding take-out food, result from a No Shopping + Zero Waste combo: The plastic! I can cook! I have medical bills to pay! There’s no point!
It was becoming a complex. A habit in itself that sometimes didn’t serve me well, as it would have been a smarter, kinder choice to pay someone to bring me food.
So that’s what I did tonight. I removed the habit and Got Over It, and ordered Chinese food. $18 worth (including tip) that lasted me 3.5 precious meals and tasted oh-so-damned-amazing.
It’s a secret. Shhhhhhhhh.
But I gave something up, promise. Something that I don’t want to be giving up today, but something that I think will be good for me to take a day off from — especially on a relaxing Sunday — and see how my night goes. I’ll report to myself off of this public thingy here.
The other night, I saw a Kraft mayonnaise commercial, reminding the world that it exists. Obviously, they consider themselves better than “that other guy” (Hellman’s), but that didn’t seem to be the point; it was more like a big hand waving, “Hey guys, just because you’ve always bought that thing before doesn’t mean it’s the best thing to buy!”
I didn’t remove a habit. Was another long week and there’s only so much this body can take right now. I thought about what I should remove. And nothing came. And I thought, and nothing came and I thought and nothing came.
So I didn’t remove a habit today. Which may be the thing I removed today! Meta!
In the documentary Happy, Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky points out that it doesn’t take much to keep our brains busy and, therefore, stimulated and happy; simply changing up our running route now and then can worthily contribute.
I don’t run. But I do walk my dog several times a day around Washington Heights And so, this morning, I took on the Challenge of shaking up our walking pattern.
“You have to take breaks. Music is a great way to take breaks.” – Cynthia Cherish Malaran, aka DJ Cherish the Luv
It threatened to overwhelm. The source can’t be fixed in a moment or a day. I don’t have a concrete solution to make it go away. And so it loomed, closing my throat and steadily increasing my heart rate.
Cue: Anxiety. Habit: Shut Down.
Today’s Action: Dance It Out
I opened my eyes. I turned on music. I hit the mat. And I moved my body.
Okay. A few boring details came between the start and finish lines there. But the gist is that coffee and scrolling and work were delayed in the habit shift of beginning my day first on the yoga mat, as I moved to music and warmed up my machine.
I debated taking up this Challenge. Sure, I often go makeup free… but only when home and relatively alone. Today, I had to go out into the world.
“Today, I will clean up after myself. Immediately. No excuses.”
It only takes a day. It only takes one simple shift in to-do. It only takes challenging a single habit to see how the ripple effect shifts everything else as you move through space.
I roll out of bed and drag myself to the coffee maker. Sometimes I’ve thought ahead, and there’s not fuel ready for me. Other days, I groggily scoop and fill and press start. Then I go to the bathroom, splash some water on my eyes, and head back to pour a cup (dotting with my dreamy fresh almond milk, of course). I take it on my walk with Mitra or head straight to my desk to work.
Every day. Every day.
But not today.
Today, I’m having my first cup at the shop around the corner, around other humans going about their own morning routines. I’m changing it up, just to see what happens. Because that’s what the final forty days of My Year of Abstinence are about.
Three-hundred-and-twenty-six days ago, I awoke to the first of forty days away from social media and dating apps. In that next chunk of time, my interactions with others shifted profoundly. I crossed an ocean and explored a new city alone, but present. I breathed in new experiences. I journaled and reflected.
By day forty, I had broken a habit. I had changed a routine.
I kept going, committing to and continuing on a Year of exploration.
And now I begin my final forty-day Challenge.