My word last year was THRIVE. I’d spent a lot of time between 2011-2015 building a brand new life and, in the day-to-day effort of it, wasn’t making enough room to revel in it. So for 2016 I set the intention of enjoying what I’d created: less striving to get there, more being there.
The attempt was imperfect (as attempts like that tend to be). I grew too attached to the success/failure of my poetry manuscript. I enjoyed some things a little too much (like lounging), rediscovered donuts (in Maine in November), coddled a running injury too long and gained 20 pounds. Mostly, however, I really do feel like I finally stretched out into the idea that it was time to THRIVE. I relaxed and let myself enjoy what was already around me.
One of the struggles that lived inside THRIVE was inconsistency with some very basic building blocks to who I am: writing, running, healthy food. And so my word for this year, 2017, is PRACTICE.
Interpreted some ways — such as “practice makes perfect” — the work of it may feel almost opposite of THRIVE. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and all that. But that’s not how I intend it. I am using “practice” in the sense that one has a practice because a specific kind of activity is regular and frequent (ideally daily). In other words: consistent, engaged and present with. I am committed to a writing practice, a body care practice (cardio, yoga, strength and nourishing food) and a soul care practice (joy, gratitude, activism and celebration).
I will do this work not aimed at some specific result or reward* but because this work is central to who I am. When I set it aside for long periods, bad things happen. Why? I am not myself without it. When I undermine my writing practice, when I engage in behaviors that hurt my body, when I neglect my soul I’m hurting myself. It can feel like betrayal.
That said, I’m not after perfection. The attempt aimed at PRACTICE will be flawed just as THRIVE was. But in the effort — it is my practice to nurture my body, soul and writing life — I will be connected with the core of who I am on a far deeper level. I’m great at swinging wildly between the extremes of obsessively taking care of business and totally checking out. I want to see what happens when I utilize the idea of PRACTICE, when I seek consistency. I want to see what’s possible when I trust the PRACTICE.
* Don’t get me wrong: I have goals (which I will outline soon as I have in the past), and there’ll likely be many positive, cumulative effects from PRACTICE. But they are not the reason. There is no destination. There is only a path, and I’m going to see what happens when I walk along it.