As Mimi and I were walking together recently on one of our infrequent but treasured “us getting healthy” walks in the park, I was rambling on about the list of new habits I’ve been instituting, and ever so slightly whining that my new chiropractor seems intent on adding to the list. I said (with appropriate nasal accent), “If I try to add one more new habit right now, all my marbles are going to start rolling off my plate.”
I’ve decided that new habits are kind of like that WiiFit game you play on the balance board where there’s a semi-flat surface suspended in space with a marble on it, and you have to maneuver the marble across the surface and drop it into a hole by shifting your weight on the balance board. Like injecting a new habit into the larger context of your life, you have to focus enough attention on the marble you’re maneuvering, while at the same time remaining aware of the surface itself. Once you plop the marble into the hole, you don’t have to worry about it anymore, because it’s pretty much been incorporated into your universe.
But, the thing about this game is, each time you get the marble in the hole, a new surface appears in space, and one more marble is added. Now, you’ve got two marbles to maneuver on a slightly different surface, two marbles you’ve got to plop into the hole or holes. While you’re working on marble #1, you’ve got to be aware enough of marble #2 that you don’t let it fall off the edge of the surface and into oblivion. And, of course, once you’ve mastered two marbles, then there are three marbles, and a different surface. Then four marbles. Then five. Then six. You get the picture. Starting to sound like your life? It sure sounds like mine. Only thing is, I don’t seem to ever have just one marble at a time; they usually come in bunches.
My current bunch of marbles looks something like this: walking six days a week, taking vitamins and supplements twice a day, wearing trifocals all the time, wearing shoes with support all the time, seeing the chiropractor weekly, sleeping with a cervical pillow, baking bread instead of buying it, and posting to my grandmother’s blog daily.
They say it takes about 8-10 weeks for a habit to really become part of your lifestyle. It’s been about two months since I started the walking and vitamins, and the rest have fallen in line pretty easily. The next bunch of marbles is shaping up to look something like this: drinking more water, strength training at the Y twice a week, postural balancing exercises daily, Kegel exercises, and adjusting Brother Bear’s braces every day.
So far, all my marbles are staying on my plate, and a few have even plopped.
Stay tuned for Part Two...