Take Your Inches, Mama

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tape measureI was 6 months into my divorce from my husband of 16 years. Every part of me ached – my heart, my body, my mind. Around each corner was another grueling obstacle, and if I wasn’t facing one directly, I was anticipating the next one. Needless to say, sleep wasn’t happening and everything was suffering because of it. Part of my survival plan was to surround myself with professional support including a therapist, a yoga instructor specializing in trauma-informed practice, and a personal trainer. (Yes, I recognize how lucky I was to be able to afford these supports and wish everyone going through a divorce or other difficult situation had the options I did.) Each one played a different role in keeping me moving. At that point, it didn’t even matter if it was two steps forward and one step back. I was out of bed and working on a recovery strategy, and that was enough for the moment. 

I was working with my personal trainer one morning and as I was, admittedly, slacking off during a set of squats he looked at me, narrowed his eyes, and said, “Megan, take your inches while you can!” And just like that, his words became a motto of sorts for me. A modified carpe diem, if you will. He was talking about inches literally – those last two inches in the squat that make the difference between just going through the motions and building muscle. However, at a time when “But I just can’t” was bouncing around like an echo chamber in my mind, I realized that in a lot of ways I really could. And that became my focus.

I couldn’t fix my marriage, even for my kids. 

But I could spend extra minutes snuggling with my little ones or texting my big ones affirmations during the day.

Take your inches.

I couldn’t change my financial situation in that moment. 

But I could advocate for myself, create a budget, and make new financial plans for my future. 

Take your inches.

I couldn’t change the fact that I hadn’t gone to the graduate school program I was supposed to years ago because of my husband’s job loss at the time.

But I could start one now.

Take your inches.

I couldn’t undo the things that had happened to me.

But I could work with a therapist and yoga instructor to address the ways they had affected me.

Take your inches.

Taking your inches isn’t limited to such an extreme application. Rather, it is a good reminder to use whatever you have available at any particular moment to the best of your ability. It is giving yourself permission to stretch just a little further to not just maintain, but build.

In what ways do you take your inches while you can? What are you building?