Wisdom, Discipline, and Using the Last of the Soap

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

November has been a great month for shifting and growing for me. I started NaNoWriMo for my writing and P90X for my health. Both are super intense workouts; one for the mind, one for the body. Both are teaching me about discipline, and both are gaining me personal wisdom and insight into the core of my being. And teaching me how to use the last of the soap. 

I love a new bar of soap. It’s big and refreshing. It smells like a new bar of life, full of fresh creativity, and I feel like it infuses new life on a daily basis into me. I hardly even notice that the bar diminishes slowly, until one day—as if all of a sudden—I notice the tiny sliver of soap left. In the past I’ve either tossed it or piggy-backed it onto a new bar of soap, rarely using it to its fullest capacity. Seems like it’s not a big deal. I mean, it’s probably 1/100th of what I started out with, which means I’ve used 99% of it, so what really is the big deal?

The Big Deal

As I go through my workouts I’m learning that quitting as soon as my muscles are tired does about 50% of the job (yes, that’s my “scientific” calculation). By continuing past the initial burn of the muscle and into complete fatigue—going to 100% muscle failure—I’ve noticed a huge difference in the effect these workouts are having on my body.

Exercises I couldn’t do on the first day (or even the second or 10th day) are now coming easier. I’m able to push myself harder, last longer, and as a result am stronger than just 11 days ago when I started this P90X thing. The results have been astounding. I’m not going for a ripped body, six-pack abs, or buns of steel. I’m simply going for a healthy body, on my own terms (by the way, have you read this awesome article on working out on your own terms?). And I’m willing to do the work to get there.

So how does this tie into using the whole bar of soap?

Part of it is using something to its full capacity. Not giving up just because it’s close to being done. Using the full bar of soap until it disappears in my hands as I wash my body really isn’t a big deal. But the act of using that piece of symbolism to its full capacity means something to me. It’s the beginning of me looking at various things in my life and wondering where I can … not just do more, but be more. Be me to my fullest capacity

Take writing in NaNo …

I began on November 1. Started out with around 1950 words and thought, “Hell yeah, I’m gonna finish this thing in no time!” If you’re doing NaNo, you probably know how delusional that is. And if you don’t believe that to be delusional, then my hat’s off to you, because averaging 1667 words a day for 30 days is no joke.

I created rules to lighten the project and remind myself that my focus isn’t to have a publishable novel at the end of 30 days, but 50,000 words and to simply practice discipline. The 50,000 words will come or they won’t. But the discipline, I’m committed to the discipline.

Oh, the discipline …

I’m learning that discipline isn’t about doing something every day. At least not for me. For me, it’s about doing something consistently. Building habits I want to continue, even after my project is “complete.” With the writing, I’m looking to create more consistency in writing. Not just writing more, writing more deeply. With the workouts, I’m looking to create more consistency in being healthy. Not just working out more, but working out more heartily.

The thing that’s working for me right now is being connected. Connected to each project in such a way that my soul is inspired to keep on keepin’ on. The P90X workouts are intense. 50-90 minutes of near maximum intensity 6 days a week, resting and stretching on the 7th day, and starting all over again. The NaNo writing sessions are intense. Bits of my home life and what I imagine happened behind closed doors, and what could have happened if I were a different person. Every time I write, I leave a part of my soul on the page. Every.Time.

Which is why I’m giving myself a little grace as the projects roll on.

I am deeply committed to both projects, and also my well being. If I focus on what everyone else is writing and what their word counts are, then I’m taking my focus off of my own writing. If I focus on what the guys and gals are doing on the DVD workouts and comparing myself to all the reps and weights they’re doing that I’m not, I’m taking my focus off of my own health. And I’m too committed to my well being to let that happen.

One last thing about that bar of soap …

As it sits in my shower tray, waiting to be used, there’s a little piece of me that wants to go a bit overboard and just use it all up, even though it probably has a couple more uses. This is the competitive person in me who wants to go faster, be bolder, be done before anyone else in the room. The thing is, I’m the only one in the room. I can’t go faster than me. I can’t be bolder than me. I can’t be done before me.

All I can do is be me. Be committed to me. Me and my well being. I’ll take my time with the soap and use it no more, no less than what I need. it’s amazing how discipline is finding its way into the cracks and crevices of my shower. And even my mind.

What does discipline mean to you?

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