What we practice is what we get good at. You likely already know this, but have you really thought about what that means in your life? To your own wellbeing? In your relationships?
Maybe you spend the majority of your time worrying. Or serving others. How much time are you devoting to holding grudges? Is putting your health first (or last) a regular top contender in your daily list of things to do?
You can become habitual and masterful at anything you spend enough time practicing. Whether an instrument, a sport, or a way of thinking or behaving, everything we practice sets electrical patterns or grooves into our central nervous system. Over time, and with enough practice, any action or reaction to a situation becomes stuck in those grooves, habitual, automatic. And when what you are practicing is anger, hate, fear, prejudice, judgment, or self neglect . . . imagine what happens in your body as you wake up and default to those ways of feeling and being every day.
I’ve recently started a creative writing group at my house. We eat homemade scones, chat about writing topics, and do some creative exercises to get the words flowing onto the page.
The other day, one member of the group seemed distressed that I would be the only one responsible for organizing our gatherings: “Isn’t it a lot of work for you to plan and host us every time?” I looked at her with what can only be described as shock. And then I realized why she might interpret the planning and hosting of such an event as a relative burden. She has a family, her own service business, and a deeply rooted local community to tend to that she’s built over 20 years. Therefore, she has lots of roles and possible demands on her time and energy. Adding one more ounce to that load might, indeed, feel as though it could break the camel’s back, especially if she weren’t careful to engage in self-care first.
As opposed to my new friend, however, I have no family here. I have been on a long-overdue sabbatical from a draining desk job for 8 months, so I have not had students or clients to tend to since last spring. I have had no local community and no friends at all, outside of my wonderful husband, since we moved overseas 4 years ago. (FOUR years!)
I’ve always been attracted to writers. Whenever I am in a new place, the first place I want to go is to a book store or a library. All those words, all those stories, written by those amazing people who do the difficult work of creating something new out of words on a page: writers.
Recently, I enrolled in a workshop for women writers. It’s the first writing workshop I have ever attended; my writing before had always been private, for my entertainment and enlightenment only. I wasn’t planning to come out of the workshop with anything publishable. In fact, I didn’t really know why I was going to the workshop at all, because I had just discovered (by using my own coaching techniques) that I am not cut out to write fiction and that my beloved Grandma’s assumption that one day I would write the great American novel was probably just pure folly. I am attracted to poetry, memoir, and creative non-fiction, despite my not having felt compelled to dedicate much time to those modes of creative writing.
I wondered, then: Why was I so keen on attending this workshop despite my ambivalence about writing?
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