I write about the large movements, the sweeping gestures, the overarching practices. But then there are the more subtle practices. The smaller movements, the undertones, understated but powerful in their support. It’s the way good lighting can make or break a room. Chair height can make or break a work space. Expression or tone of voice can make or break a conversation. You get it; the subtleties that matter much.
I take comfort in the subtleties during times of restructure. When my life is being reorganized and realigned and the times for all the larger practices gets jumbled and heaved around. My morning workout partner is injured. My new job requires more sleep. My schedules are all off. Things are not getting done with the same regularity. I know they will settle. I know I’ll get it all figured out. I always do. But in the meantime, how do I feel well and supported and content? I magnify the subtleties and take an abnormal amount of satisfaction in them. I’ll share.
Short fingernails, even if you are a woman. Especially if you are a man, but ladies, it matters. The pads of our fingers and the tips of our fingers have different and separate nerve endings. They also impart different sensations. With long fingernails we miss the sensation given and received through the very tips of our fingers, which is exquisite. And there is science involved as well. Energy is discharged through our fingertips — ask the folks in white coats with protected pockets about the electron concentration in the human fingertip. It’s real. It’s part of therapeutic touch, holding hands, baby bonding, massage therapy, and even masturbation. It’s not just the friction, y’all. There is energy involved. Long fingernails prevent contact with the very tip of our natural finger magic. And nails scratch our tender bits when when make our magic, do they not?
I smile every time I reach for an emery board. This is part of the practice.
Language patterns. What we say obviously reveals how we feel but it also manifests more of the same. So if we say, “Oh, I’m okay,” we can expect to feel okay and to maintain okay-ness. Want to feel better than okay? Want to be better than okay or just fine? Change the language. Years ago I decided I would answer the question, “How are you?” with the answer, “I am divine.” Not fine, not okay, not even I’m good. I am divine. I still love to say this but something shifted in October. I shifted with it like the turning of a season and therefore shifted to, “I am thriving.”
Every morning when the boss greets me and asks, “How are you today?” I am thriving. On the phone, over email or text, with strangers and acquaintances alike, I am thriving. I swear I can’t say it without a smile. The approach of the words prompts a smile to accompany them involuntarily. Magic. Energy. And I put that authentic smile energy into the conversation, into the room, into existence every time I do it and it affects the way people feel around me. Subtle and powerful. Part of the practice.
Writing down what works. The wins. The yeays. The whoo-hoos. This practice is probably most fulfilling to me because I am a writer but also because we battle every day in our society with Enough and Good Enough. Specifically, that we are not enough or don’t do enough and we are therefore never good enough. We make endless lists of things to do, which is really just a list of things we haven’t done yet. We get to cross things off when we finish them but as soon as this happens our focus and attention shifts directly to the items not crossed off the list. We stay perpetually preoccupied with what we aren’t doing, haven’t done, didn’t accomplish, etc.
And the accomplishments are crossed out, as in eliminated, canceled, void, because the list is for the Undone rather than the Done. This is not constructive. This is destructive. It undermines our momentum and creates a pervasive feeling of stress over crushing, killing, striking through our accomplishments. Bad juju, folks. We may spend precious time and energy on those tasks but as soon as they are finished they are executed with a strike or a blow. I’ll concede that checkmarks are probably more kind but I still think there should be a second list for the checked.
If a sports analogy helps you; we don’t keep a record of our wins, only our losses. This causes us to subconsciously identify ourselves as losers, no matter how many things get Xed off that damn list. And if we do succeed in finishing the list, the fact that all the things are all crossed out makes them feel nullified. There should be a list of wins. A list of dones. A list of hell yeahs. I have become a big believer in a list of I Rocked The Shit Out Of This right beside a To Do list. I try to do it every day. My wins. My awesome sauce. My atta girls. I have a winning record because I don’t nullify my wins and this has a powerful effect on how I operate from day to day.
Someday when I’m dead and gone and someone purges my belongings they will find my journals with lists of stars next to things I accomplished every day. Big deals and small deals, love made, crises averted, colossal success, or one tiny little thing I managed squeeze out of a tragically terrible day. On some days there might be a star next to the statement: ∗ Made a pretty picture of my basil to share on Instagram today. (See photo above.) And I will feel no posthumous shame over this no matter what these things might have been or how they are perceived. Wellness is a practice. Intentionally living well means I will intentionally die well (die in a state of wellness). That’s win-win, folks.
Embrace the subtleties.