When I began teaching yoga in Washington, DC six years ago, I didn't own a car. Instead I owned a red heavy-frame bicycle with a stuck gear shift. It had the words "Free Spirit" lettered upon it's side which matched my own emerging yoga-teaching lifestyle. Riding this old, steady bicycle felt like listening to vinyl--impractical yet totally worth it for the right aesthetic and rich quality of experience.
However, this impracticality also meant I knew and avoided every hill in DC when possible. This lead to a few zig-zagging bike routes that probably only made sense to me. But as the yoga studio where I taught weekly was up a big hill in Columbia Heights (key word--heights), avoiding all hills became impossible. Instead I made it my mission to find the least hill-y way to ride. After testing a few different routes, I decided upon one and trugged up at 5:45am every Thursday morning, little bike lights flashing in the dark morning air.
About a year later, I was biking with a friend to take a class at the studio. I tried to lead us my usual route but he motioned for me to follow as he biked ahead. He navigated our way to the studio on a road that I'd never seen before. It had a much gentler hill AND a bike lane. My mind was blown. I thought I was doing things the best way when a much better way existed out there!
Years later, I think of this lesson often. Of course, I still search for the best way to do things. In my work, I search out systems to maximize my efficiency while increasing ease. I organize my domestic life in a balance of beauty and utility.
What has changed is that I don't assume I know the best way. Actually, I assume there is a much better way out there and hope to discover it quickly. I ask other people about what shortcuts work well for them and listen for excitement in their voices. Then I follow up on their advice.
As my business grows and life gets busier, I've found a few techie self care shortcuts that are making a big difference to my overall quality of life. Materially, when I use these, everything gets easier and lovelier.
Spiritually, they remind me that I am never done with my own inner work. This means accepting that I will never arrive in the promise land of perfection. I am always going to be a work in progress and this is a beautiful thing. For all it's temptation, I've learned that hiding in certainty also means a kind of death to my spirit. My spirit loves a rich messy, evolving progress. This zig-zagging path is so far from perfect yet so very vital.
Below are my current favorite self care shortcuts. This list isn't nearly done so please add your own favorites in the comments section below. We can learn new things. We can help each other to discover that better ways exists that we can't even imagine from our current state. We can evolve together.
1. Betterment -- Easy, low-drama investing. Set it and forget it.
2. Dyson vacuums -- Pricey and totally worth it. I was gleefully disgusted at how much dust and Poncho hair I sucked up during my first vacuum. It makes cleaning fun.
3. E-cloths -- My friend Lindsey turned me onto these soap-less, microfiber clothes. Again, I never thought cleaning would be so enjoyable.
4. Unroll.me -- My relationship with my inbox has dramatically changed since signing up for this service. It helps you easily unsubscribe from unwanted emailing lists and consolidate the useful ones for more enjoyable reading. (Thanks for reading mine by the way!)
5. Google Express -- Obviously, I gotta get my Costco staples (coconut oil, eco-detergent, avocado oil) but I always procrastinate buying them because Costco is far and crowded and the parking, etc. For a $5 fee, Google sends someone to pick it up your list and deliver it to your door! I used GE to get supplies for my last yoga retreat and it saved me at least two hours.
6. A retractable leash -- When I adopted Poncho with my ex, the rescue dissuaded us from using a retractable leash. Recently my ex decided to get one for him and wow, it's such a better walking experience! I could write a lot about the reasons why so message me if you want to geek out about dog leashes. Also, he got him a new harness that's easier to put on and fits him better. It reminds me that all creatures great and small need to evolve their self care.
7. Voice memos -- Obviously, I prefer to be outside more than I prefer to be on my computer (except when it's DC ridiculous hot). Now instead of writing someone a long catch-up email, I record a message for them on my phone while out and about. I trade them with a few friends and love hearing their voices when I don't have time for a full phone catch-up.
8. This sprouter -- I've promoted it before and will again. It's really easy, saves me money and gives me fresh green produce from my countertop.
9. Brainpickings.com -- Has everyone listened to the great On Being interview with Maria Popova? I love her spirit of enjoyment versus productivity. Her website is perfect when you need a bite-sized burst of literary inspiration.
10. Meditation -- Sitting still and watching my busy mind within a field of presence is perhaps my best self care shortcut. I do it everyday and reap the benefits x100. I never feel like I am good at meditation and don't always enjoy it in the moment but I will never deny that it opens up unbelievable amounts of time and energy and inner good will for me. If you haven't tried it then please try it!
Just a note here, these self care shortcuts don't replace the hard and rewarding work of actually building a real self care practice. But they can cushion the path in fun and surprising ways. They remind us that there is always so much more to know, live and love, but only if we stay open to seeing a better way of life and hold steady in our commitment to enjoying the process.