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Patience is a virtue

Are you aware of the furniture-free trend amongst health-minded folk?  Here’s the scoop: all of the conveniences of modern life are what’s seizing up our bodies. Chairs are particularly a problem simply because they’re ubiquitous. If you spend all your time in chairs and couches and cars, then your body will adapt to pretty much *only* being suited for chairs and couches and cars. That might be OK, until you need to pick something up off the floor and can’t bend over well, or actually fall and need to get yourself up off the floor. If you never get up and down from the floor, you may well lose the ability to do so, at least without undue strain. So, if the chairs and couches and cars that we love are actually harming us in the long run, maybe we shouldn’t be using them so much.

Problem is, if a couch is *there,* it’s likely to be used.

About three years ago I stopped using my couch. My husband mostly stopped using it, too, but he was insistent that we keep it, for various reasons. The biggest  reason being that we needed it for guests. I understand that not everyone wants to choose the floor, and that older people (read: our parents) might not be able to sit on the floor. However, our parents are here collectively about fourteen days per year. It doesn’t make sense to me to furnish our house for their benefit. If needed, I can haul some chairs out from the attic when they visit.

However, in an effort to be cooperative (and stay married) I decided that as long as I’m free to choose the floor for sitting, that’s good enough. After all, I’d be crazy-frustrated if, after my autonomous decision to get rid of the couch, husband made an autonomous decision to BUY A NEW ONE. Husband can make his own choices. The couch stayed.

I wasn’t willing to let my kids make that choice for themselves, however. They’re not motivated by a desire to be healthy (yet), so of course in many cases they will choose what’s comfortable and fun right now over what’s good for them in the long run. (See also: candy over veggies, wheels over walking, screens over books [usually]). The safest bet is to create an environment where they don’t have to make choices (ie. don’t keep sweets in the house, use walking for transportation, get rid of the TV and lock the computer), and in this case that would require getting rid of the couch. Once it’s gone, they’d have to sit on the floor. No choice required. And I’m sure they wouldn’t MIND sitting on the floor if it was the only choice. We all spend plenty of time on the floor, anyway!

The problem remained, though, that not all the adults were in agreement. So I asked the kids to choose the floor. I mentioned (once or twice?) that the couch almost always made them sit on their tailbones. I pleaded with them to sit on the floor. I forbade them to sit on the couch. I *might have* shouted “GET ON THE FLOOR!” a couple (or a hundred) times…

And then it hit me. The couch actually isn’t something I’m willing to compromise on. This is my kids’ health (did you know the shape of your pelvis is determined largely by your movement- and lack of movement- while you’re growing?), and there is no defendable reason why we need a couch in our living room. It was a big lightbulb moment. I might have moved the couch right then, but I paused long enough to be rational… The kids and I were leaving for a long summer trip, and husband was staying home. I decided there was no need to make the switch immediately and that husband could keep the couch while we were gone. (I’ve always wondered just how much use it gets when I’m not around…) I didn’t even mention it to him. But, I left on the trip with 100% conviction that upon return, the couch was out.

Now, if you’d asked me three years ago if I’d been 100% certain I wanted the couch gone, I’d’ve said yes. I did. I did for three years, and whined and complained about it to sympathetic ears over and over. But it wasn’t until the lightbulb moment that I was ready to be confrontational about it. And guess what?

When I got home, the couch was gone.

IMG_1647

Plenty of “furniture,” but no couch!

 

(OK, not actually gone, but it wasn’t in the living room. It only moved about 10 feet, but it’s now behind a closed door in our otherwise boring guest room).

The husband moved it all of his own accord. He didn’t know my plans.

Or did he? I didn’t tell him, but I’m guessing that there was some energy out there that tipped him off. This happened once before- in fact I’m sure it’s happened more than that, but these two times I was keenly aware of it– when I hit my limit for tolerating school and was ready to insist we homeschool. As soon as I was prepared to stand my ground, I was met with NONE of the resistance that had marked all previous conversations. What changed? I’m sure there were myriad factors, but at least one was my own certitude that I wasn’t going to back down. That energy was out there.

Perhaps you are never faced with this dilemma, and always speak your mind with confidence, and get your way. In that case, great. You don’t need this post.

If, however, there’s something out there you want, and it isn’t quite happening yet, and you’re frustrated…. perhaps take a breath, and consider that the time isn’t right *yet.*

(Believe me I know how annoying it is to read that, if you’re dissatisfied with something and you’re sure NOW is the right time, because that’s how I felt about the couch for three years. Feel free to move along and figure it out some other way. Also, {insert wise words here about noticing what you’re afraid of and working on that…})

So, was I being patient? Or complacent? Possibly both, or neither. What definitely happened is that I gave him space to come around to the idea, and he did. My own journey along the way probably helped. And the result was what I wanted, without a fight. Once everyone’s ready, the details take care of themselves.

*Which isn’t to say I wouldn’t have removed the furniture a long time ago, had I been in charge of everything.

**I’d also like to say a quick word about hospitality. I live in the south now, and hospitality is taken pretty seriously down here. The idea that you do what you can to make other people feel comfortable is pervasive. But it isn’t really a big part of my personality, especially if it has anything to do with a subject I feel passionate about. I really don’t want to change my behavior just to fit in with your cultural norm. Husband, however, is much more inclined to “not rock the boat.” So it’s easy for me to rationalize getting rid of a couch that guests might appreciate having, but I can see how it would be much more difficult for him, regardless of how he personally felt about the couch.

*** All that said, please come visit. Our guest room now has a couch!

****Can you see the dark line between the two bookshelves in the photo? That’s where the top of the couch used to be. Years of accumulated footprints (because they don’t always sit on their sacrum, sometimes they “sit” on their head). Time to repaint, methinks…

 

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