My most clouded memory from childhood is when my mom lost her job in 2009, yet it was one that shook my family the most. It was an excruciatingly sad time – from my perspective, for no reason other than the fact that I was 11 years old, and my mom didn’t make me dinner as much anymore. For her, she had lost the biggest thing that defined her over the last 20 years.
Heidi Barr is a woman who experienced the same. In 2016, she was laid off after 10 years as a health coach – nonetheless during a notably fervent political time, accompanied by already heightened emotions from the job loss.
“Everything felt like it was blowing up,” Heidi told me during our conversation in late February. “I had to refocus my attention into: What can I control right now?”
The purpose of Heidi’s new book 12 Tiny Things, co-written with Ellie Roscher, is along those same lines of helping you define what in your life you have control over, placing them into a tangible list, and putting them all toward building yourself up and moving forward. Since our ways of living have especially gone overboard amidst this last year of Covid madness, Heidi and Ellie’s encouragement that living intentionally is an achievable goal is grounds for adopting a similar, positive lifestyle.
In a world so invested in technology, Heidi admitted she has to set boundaries for herself when it comes to screen time. A healthy routine is what evolved her daily intentions into natural habits. Going on a walk, drinking water, and taking deep breaths – to name a few. “It’s the simple things that really work. Even if you’re only stepping outside for a few minutes, it makes you take a deep breath and say: Okay, there’s a lot more going on than just my problems.”
So, what do you do if you’re like me, and you have trouble even getting into a routine?
“You have to start really small, and that’s the idea behind 12 Tiny Things,” she shared. “Just going and opening a window – you don’t have to go outside to open the window, but you’re still breathing in the fresh air… that’s an invitation into doing things differently. If you do these tiny things often enough, you start to shift the course of how you think about things.”
Most notably since the start of Covid, interpersonal communication has become a rarity, and thus the concept of community changed. Yet, this is a component that humans inherently rely on. Having originally written this part of the book in a pre-Covid world, Heidi acknowledged it would be much different if written today. “Now, I find solace in recognizing that my community is so much more than just people,” Heidi extracted. “For example, how can I focus on the ground I’m walking on and incorporate it into my sense of belonging?” Her words reminded me of summer weather and walking barefoot through the grass; there’s something very special about being one with the earth, a common thought expressed throughout 12 Tiny Things.
The book also underlines the importance of developing a passion for learning, and Heidi explained that her learning comes largely through reading. “It’s a way to enhance your community. It’s not directly having a conversation, but you’re stepping into another world and learning about it. Then, you can take what you learned back to your own community.”
Before losing her own job in 2016, Heidi relished in the fact that she didn’t define herself by her occupation – until she was laid off and hit by the reality of her situation. “I thought, Now what? What am I now that I’m not a health coach?” The intentional way of shifting her own narrative afterward was what helped to pick her back up.
“I had to ask myself: What is it about that job that made me feel like I was contributing in a positive way?”
The answer was with her all along. She loved connecting with others on issues that were important to them both, and she didn’t need to be a paid health coach to do that.
A month after graduating college in 2019, I celebrated my 22nd birthday, moved into a new apartment, and already had inside jokes with all of my new friends. When I lost my job during the height of Covid last year, I understood more simply the drop my mom must have felt. I didn’t know what I loved outside of what I did professionally.
If this last year of quarantining and social distancing has taught me anything, it’s that the tiny things truly do matter. Whether it’s going on that walk around the block each morning, or something as simple as taking a deep breath, living mindfully and intentionally makes all the difference.
Pictured above: Ellie Roscher (left) and Heidi Barr (right)
12 Tiny Things takes us through the steps top remain present, live intentionally, and be mindful. To find the book and learn more about Heidi Barr, Ellie Roscher, and their individual journeys, visit the 12 Tiny Things Website or purchase the book on Amazon.