What you practice expands into other parts of your life - from creative efforts, to health and diet to success at work.
Last July, on my birthday, I decided to commit to an art practice. I decided to paint every day for 108 days. I’m still not sure what drove me to make this promise to myself, but I did. I kept it loose – even holding a paintbrush, picking up some paint and depositing it on ‘something’ (because I paint just about anything I can get my hands on this ‘something’ could be a canvas, some paper, a piece of furniture, some garden tools). I wanted to keep it light, with the focus on the practice instead of results.
What happened? Did I paint absolutely every day? No. I painted almost every day thought. And I approached painting differently. And as I painted more, my painting changed and morphed and became something I had not anticipated, both in terms of content (what I paint has shifted, much to my surprise), but also in terms of feelings associated with painting. Gone (mostly lol) is the heaviness that I felt when I approached painting thinking I needed to produce something of value. Now I can paint for 5 minutes and count it as a win. Often, I paint for longer, but the win happens in very little time… the rest is just a bonus.
Something else also happened though, something pretty cool and momentous. The discipline of painting daily bled into other areas of my life. I found myself making other life changes. I changed the way I eat and it was easier than ever. I started writing more. I added steps to my day… lots of them. Why did this happen? Now I’m not totally sure but I think when I started feeling successful every day, I started feeling more equipped to take on other challenges. After all, I was already proving I could do something that I considered challenging. The key, for me, is to make success super duper easy. I have a tendency to want to jump into something pretty extreme with impossibly tight deadlines and then revel in the adrenaline rush… while it lasts (which typically is not all that long). This is looser, easier, although not always fun it is more often fun! It runs completely counter to my usual approach but it is working. More than three months in, what have I learned?
Everything changes when you practice. The work changes and YOU change… in ways that you would not be able to predict when you started. Maybe you want to join me in picking something you want to move forward on and pick the tiniest daily step you can possibly imagine… and then commit to a practice… and recognize your wins. Can’t wait to hear what you choose! And if you want some support and companionship along the way, perhaps we can walk this bit together!
The best of times, the worst of times - which will this year's holidays be for you? Taking the road less travelled may be your best way to start the New Year!
I know that I approach the holidays with equal parts excitement - I really, really love it … the music, the people around me and excuses to get together, the gifting and focus on others… and the food… That’s the other part. The holidays fill me partly with trepidation because they can so easily, at least for me, become a time where I take less than stellar care of myself. I let myself go a bit on the eating, I take fewer steps and get outside less, I get to sleep later, I spend more, I meditate… oh, maybe even not at all!
So this year, I am approaching the holidays with a plan. If you know me, you know that my plans have become looser and gentler over the years… thank goodness, because the last thing I really need is to chart it all when I eat some chocolate instead of loading up on salad (yes, I know that in theory I could do both but let’s face it, that’s NOT the way it typically happens for me). This year, I’m working on taking better care of myself and the first part of that is being gentle with me… What does this look like? I am going into the season with the intention of really being kind to myself! Of checking in to see what I need, especially when it get a bit (or a lot) crazy. To do this, I personally do best with a daily practice. So, with my morning coffee (and along with my other morning routine items like daily gratitude), I am adding a moment to reflect on what it is that would make the day healthy and nurturing for me. My usual deal with any practice is that it can’t take more than 5 minutes or I won’t do it. So, as well as this item taking less than 5 minutes, I’m going to make a deal with myself that whatever I choose to do for myself on this day ALSO will take less than 5 minutes (it can take more, of course, but I want to know that I can make things better without letting my brain invent a ton of excuses, which it absolutely will if I give it a chance!).
To make it even easier, I’m setting aside a few minutes today (and invite you to do the same) to brainstorm some easy, simple, cheap things that make me feel good and pampered and cared-for. Here goes:
- Lighting a candle (in the morning with my coffee and/ or in the evening or when I’m working… I LOVE a candle)
- Drinking my coffee in a favorite mug – I admit that I love drinking out of a handmade mug (either one of mine or from another artist)
- Forcing a hug on one of my teens lol
- Taking three deep breaths
- Sitting in the sunshine (on the relatively few sunny days we have lol) or going outside to stand or walk in the sunshine
- Taking a bath
- Patting the dog
- Taking a nap
- Making art
Over to you… I invite you to come up with your own list of quick and healthy ways to treat yourself well… every single day.