You Can Do Anything for 30 Seconds: A Guest Blog by Marcy Kennedy

Recently the Life List Club held their second Milestone Party recapping where we’re at on our goals.  And a party isn’t a party without prizes!  One of the prizes was a blog swap with one of my commenters, so I’m very very pleased to introduce Marcy Kennedy from Life at Warp 10.  Marcy is awesome in every way possible, and those of you who’ve been reading here for awhile will immediately know why I feel such a kinship with her!  And you can find me reveling her readers with some the story of how I met my honey bunny, so please drop by and say hi!  Here’s Marcy!

You Can Do Anything for 30 Seconds

I’ve broken both my arms (not at the same time) and multiple toes, sprained my right ankle three times, torn the cartilage in my left ankle, and dislocated my shoulder, and if there’s a door I can walk into or something to trip over or slip on, I will. It’s safe to say I could be a founding member of a clumsiness support group.

So when my husband and I needed to lose weight and bought the P90X workout series, I had visions of ending up on a first name basis with the ER staff. If you’ve ever seen the videos, you know that P90X is the scariest workout imaginable.

The people in the 12 videos do airborne clap push-ups. They do an hour and a half of yoga with exercises where you flip your feet back over your head to touch the floor (what kind of a person is that flexible?), and an ab routine that makes you long for normal crunches.

But “the mother of all P90X workouts” is plyometrics. It’s an hour of jump-training cardio exercises. The instructor broke each exercise into 30 seconds to one minute moves because he claimed, “You can do anything for 30 seconds.”

And I thought, “Yuh-huh. Maybe you can, but I can’t do that.”

Until I tried it. What looked impossible when I thought about it as an hour of pain became manageable in those 30 seconds. I could do those crazy hopping lunges for 30 seconds. I could do the wall squats and chair dips.

Normally I’m a planner who has contingency plans for her contingency plans and looks ahead, but sometimes, when you hit the P90X moments of life, those moments that hurt but also end up building character and strength, the way to get through them is to take 30 seconds at a time.

When my husband enlisted in the Marine Corps, a lot of people thought he’d never make it. The Marine Corps’ boot camp is the longest of any branch of the service—14 weeks. For those 14 weeks, you have no contact with your family, and your body is pushed to its physical and emotional limits. The drill instructors scream in your face about how worthless you are, you hike 15 miles carrying 50-60 lbs of gear, and if the DIs don’t give you permission to speak, you can’t ask to go to the washroom. My husband went chow to chow (meal to meal) because going day to day was too hard. That was his 30 seconds.

My neighbor while I was growing up was like an uncle to me. Just before he moved in down the street from us, he’d lost his driver’s license for repeatedly driving drunk. It was the point where he admitted he was an alcoholic and needed help. He once told my mom that he couldn’t think about not drinking for the rest of his life. He had to think about taking it one day, one hour at a time. He could do it for one hour. That was his 30 seconds, and he’s been sober ever since.

It’s the same way with anything in life that seems overwhelming and impossible. When we take it one box at a time, one application at a time, one page at a time, one breath at a time, it’s manageable. Not fun, but manageable. What’s better, doing something for 30 seconds proves we can do what we thought we couldn’t. Maybe we can even do it for longer. And maybe one day we’ll be able to look back and see how much better we are for surviving it.

Like the corny old joke says, “How do you eat an elephant?”

“One bite at a time.”

What’s your 30 seconds? What elephant seemed impossible to eat until you took it one bite at a time?

Marcy Kennedy is a fantasy author who also writes suspense/thriller short stories and works as a freelance writer for magazines, newspapers, and non-profits and a freelance editor for both businesses and individuals. Her current work-in-progress is a co-written historical fantasy about Amazons. When she’s not wrestling unruly commas, she spends her time with her equally nerdy husband, her Great Dane, and more cats than she’s willing to admit to in public. You can visit her at her blog, Life At Warp 10.

30 responses

  1. Thanks for having me here today. I’m excited about hanging out with your readers 🙂

    1. So happy to feature you on The Happiness Project, Marcy! Thanks for sharing this story!

  2. I love the 30-second idea. If we don’t look at the top of the mountain but rather at the ledges that lead up to the top, it becomes less daunting. We can do most anything for 30 seconds and it makes sense so our fear doesn’t get in the way.

    1. I think fear really does play a huge role in keeping us from finishing what we need to do. I’m terrified of heights, and I use this principle when go rock wall climbing. Looking up or down leaves me frozen, but when I focus on getting to just the next hand/foot hold, I can actually make it to the top.

      1. Oh I hear yah on the fear factor. Last summer I visited Toronto and my honey and I went to the CN Tower, which has a glass floor. I was terrified to step on it, but with him guiding me and talking I was able to get on. But of course I ran off shortly after that. Hey, I did it! LOL

        1. I know what you mean about the glass floor in the CN Tower. The first step onto it is the worst for me because that’s when my body is the most convinced I’m trying to kill it 🙂

  3. Love this post! It’s both perception-altering and a kick in the pants.

    My thirty seconds: a paragraph, the first quarter-mile of a walk, showing up.

    Thanks, Marcy.

    1. Great point about it working for writing too, Pat! I find I can trick myself into writing by saying, “I just need to write 250 words,” and often I’ll get rolling and turn out 1250 or more.

    2. I’m digging the catchphrase. “My thirty seconds…” Good line, Pat!

      My thirty seconds: Workout classes, ellipticals, blogging, writing, and how about flossing…

  4. My 30 seconds is probably just getting out of bed in the morning. Once that’s complete, I feel like I can tackle anything!

    1. The toughest time of the day is getting out from under warm blankets if the house is cold 😉

      1. DITO!!! This is why I push for hibernation in winter. Who’s with me?

  5. For many years, my 30 seconds was the next nap time (or bed time depending on the time of day). I got to breathe during nap time – sit down – read an article (forget about reading a novel). These seasons always pass, but in the middle of the hard times it’s difficult to have perspective.
    Thanks for the post, Marcy.

    1. Good for you for finding small moments of relief though. That’s the difference between those who see hope and those who don’t. You did what you needed to do to find calm and joy in your 30 seconds. Thanks for sharing that, Lisa!

    2. I love that you’re able to bring the mom perspective to it. I don’t have any personal experience there yet, but I can imagine how overwhelming it must have been at times to have three young kids.

  6. I love this…30 seconds of P90X. I’ve thought all this time I couldn’t do it, but 30 seconds worth? Maybe…

    I agree with Mark about the 30 seconds of getting out of bed in the morning. Once I do that, I feel like I can do anything…

    Thanks for hosting Marcy, Jess!

    1. It’s very true for workouts. I’m amazed at what my body can do…for 30 seconds at a time. But training and repetitions of that are so good and motivational. I have a hard time with circuit workouts, where you do move from station to station, but just when I think I’m going to fall over, the time changes and I can do something different. Spot on advice, Marcy!

      Tiffany, if you try P90X, tell us how it goes!

    2. Getting through the first two weeks was the most difficult because my muscles hurt every day, but it’s getting easier now 🙂

    1. I agree, isn’t she charming?!

  7. I love that! I have always thought that I can do one of anything, like I can make one scary phone call or run one mile. I tell myself I can do anything once. But the idea of 30 seconds is a lot more managable to think about. I also like one day at a time. Thanks for inspiring me to break things up and only worry about what I can handle in the moment.

    1. All great advice. Whatever the challenge, you know you’ll survive it and it will make you stronger.

    2. When I was on retainer for a grant writing firm, one of my tasks was to call foundations to find out their guidelines. I hated those phone calls more than anything, and I would break it up, getting through one phone call at a time. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who’s done that 🙂

  8. Tonnie Heckathorn | Reply

    Thanks for your story. It was very encouraging. Our son enlisted in the Marine Corps last year following in his dad’s footsteps. He used the same strategy as your husband. He said basic training was difficult and demanding, both physically and mentally. He wrote in his letters that to make the days bearable he went from chow to chow. I never realized that this same strategy could be applied to our everyday lives. 🙂

    1. So glad your son had a support network of family around him. I bet those letters were another big help and 30 seconds of relief from the day. Thank you for sharing this story and thank you to your son for protecting our country.

    2. Please thank both your husband and your son for their service on behalf of both my husband and myself.

  9. […] talking about definitions of love here and Marcy talking about overcoming anything for 30 seconds here!  […]

  10. I love this, Marcy! You’re right, we can do anything for 30 seconds…no matter how long our personal 30-second period is. Small bites, baby steps, one step at a time…that’s the way to get through the tough moments in life. Great post. thanks for hosting Marcy, Jess!

    1. Thanks for cheering us all on, Marcia! As Queen of the LLC, that’s quite the compliment! You’re spectacular!

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