We begin with an idea.
A little shimmer of a thing. A hunch that maybe if we try X or Y or Z it will have meaning for us. It will help us transcend or get to know ourselves or blossom.
We stretch out to it, awkward and unsure and shaky. So shaky. And in that stretching it might feel like something vaguely familiar. Like something we are supposed to know or do or try or consider. It might feel like it could be home for us if we just keep reaching for it.
So we decide to practice it. To keep reaching for it. To be open for what it offers.
Sometimes, we are only open to part of what it has to offer when we start.
Like when we take up yoga and we want the stretch and strength from it but maybe we aren’t yet ready for it to stretch our brain, for it to change how we show up in the world. Maybe we aren’t yet ready for it to transcend us. And then days or weeks or years later, we become open not just to what pigeon pose can do for us but what yoga can do for us. We embrace the totality of the practice. Yoga becomes how we live rather than just something that we do.
It can be like that with anything we practice—yoga, lovingkindness, running, openness, hope, engagement, community, commitment, wholeheartedness, presence, cycling, art, love.
And the idea with practice, for me, is that it is a consistent state, not a destination. With everything, motherhood, writing, teaching, running, yoga, barre, cooking, being community, leading, creating, being in a relationship- EVERYTHING, I feel like I am still practicing. Like there is still so much to learn, to consider, to tweak, to receive.
And so I keep practicing. I identify new practices. I put my whole heart into exploring even while evaluating which practices are working for me and which ones aren’t.
Today, I am looking at my very best practices from 2014, ones that fed my well in some way and helped me operate from a more whole, happy, healthy place. Next week, I’ll share what I am choosing to practice in 2015.
Embracing presence over productivity. You might recall that this was something I really identified as a shift that I wanted to see for myself mid-way through 2014. I was tired of ALL of the doing and just wanted to be more, especially because the me I most appreciate is the one who is present with and for people and experiences and not hyper-productive. Just making this choice really shifted my mindset and made me linger with an idea rather than just barreling through because I had it (I am never short on ideas which means that I could technically never be done with crossing things off my list).
Stopping the work bleed. Often, I ended the day with my laptop in my lap in bed and I started my day the same way. When I decided to focus on presence rather than productivity, I let that go for the most part (with the very rare exception—like deadline work).
Morning workouts. Stopping the early morning work sessions means that I don’t bag my morning workouts anymore. Instead, I start my day with some awesome self-care—a workout, some tea, breakfast in the quiet of the day. It is so much better for all of me.
Pure Barre. One of those common early morning workouts is a barre class. I would never have thought to sign up for it on my own but when I won a one month pass in a charity auction, I decided that I would go full tilt that month. And I like it a lot—I love that it is no impact, that it is always a challenge, that it occupies my whole brain so I can’t be off in lala land while I am working out, and that it is total body. It’s also so different from everything else I have ever done that it remains a novelty which is fun. I don’t think there will ever be a class where my form doesn’t need to be corrected but I always leave there feeling really proud and satisfied.
Unscheduled Mondays. This is really a continued practice from 2013, but it is absolutely my second best professional habit after my weekly review so I want to celebrate continuing it. Not scheduling meetings on Mondays has really made sure that I feel in control and prepare every week rather than reactive and behind. I get the most urgent things done every Monday and then anything else that week is gravy (in case things hit the fan). It also lets me hang out in my workout clothes for the whole day which never gets on my nerves.
Tackling my sinus health. It is terribly ironic that I am writing this while on antibiotics for a sinus infection but, to be fair, I really do have less sinus infections then I used to have. Before last year, I had a raging sinus infection every 6 weeks. Years ago, when I had my tonsils out, my surgeon suggested that I also have my sinus cavities shaved (that wasn’t the word he used but it is how I heard it and, hence, why I didn’t do it—BIG MISTAKE) because they are shaped in a way that invites infection. My chronic allergies + unfortunately shaped sinuses meant constant sinus infections. That is far more than you want to know about my sinuses, so now I’ll be brief. I decided to tackle my sinus issues (as much as I have control over) in 2014. I started oil pulling (basically swishing coconut oil), taking allergy medicine again, decreasing my dairy intake, etc. Overall, I think I was down to 3-4 sinus infections last year from about 10 the previous year. Hooray!
Saying hard things. This year was peppered with super hard, make me slightly sick to my stomach hard conversations. A lot of times we think it is just easier to let things go unsaid but that is only “true” until the things that go unsaid become too painful to live with in your daily life. This year, I tried to really have the necessary hard conversations earlier. Having the conversations didn’t get easier but living life after them sure did.
Audiobooks. I have loved audiobooks for my time in the car, but got away from them at the end of 2013. I got back into them in 2014 and “read” so many more books that I wouldn’t have come across otherwise.
What were some of your best practices in 2014?