If you’re reading this, you survived 2020 too.
Congratulations! That was no small feat. Now what?
Two months into the new year I am finally getting my shit together enough to tackle some
resolutions goals. You can do it too. Even if you’re an essential worker and your goal is to get vaccinated before home-schooled kindergarteners, you can start to take steps toward realizing that dream.
Feeling less ambitious? Maybe your goal is to get out of bed before noon and successfully manage a change of clothing.
Awesome. I’ve been there. I know the feeling.
Perhaps you have limited spoons to spare these days, and just don’t have enough to care about the same things you prioritized before Covid-19 took a dump on everyone’s party.
If you have no idea what that means, here’s a quick reference on The Spoon Theory, coined by Christine Miserandino. (More on that in a future post.)
Where do you tend to use your spoons? It’s a question worth pondering, and one I ask myself regularly.
My spoons have been spent largely on a modest handful of activities since the start of 2021. I operate at my best when focused on 3-5 things, usually covering the four areas of well-being: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual.
If that paragraphs sounds obnoxiously woo-woo to you, it might be. It’s also true, so just chill on the judgments and keep reading…
My goal list these days is short and simple (not to be mistaken for easy):
- Practice yoga for 30 minutes each morning
- Meditate for 10 minutes before bed each night
The first two are straightforward and more specific than the third one. They are also more self-contained and narrower in focus.
My yoga practices of choice run the gamut, and may not be your forte, but hear me out–you’ve made it this far into the post so you may as well finish it, and enjoy the stock photos breaking up the paragraphs. Regular stretching and focused breathing could make your pandemic experience more tolerable. They have transformed mine (more on that in a later post–gotta stagger these gems).
My current yoga favorites are kundalini and vinyasa. Wha-? Ok, to grossly oversimplify them: think white garb and sanskrit chanting with a blissed-out feeling at the end; and power moves like plank and chaturanga, also with a blissed out feeling at the end. See a theme here?
This is not a yoga blog per se, so if you want more in-depth descriptions, check out one of these other blogs.
In lieu of proper studio sessions, my go-to pandemic classes include anything on YouTube that’s free and an app called Down Dog Yoga, for which I paid a $25 annual subscription fee starting in August. That’s less than the monthly fee at my gym, which I haven’t been able to frequent in months.
I prefer budget activities, especially ones that I could, in theory, practice in the comfort of my own home. Or outside on a canyon ledge during sunset, safely away from other people.
A friend of mine whose mother is from India has told me that she views yoga as a white-girl sport in North America. I laughed at the time, but I also see that she isn’t wrong. The popularity of Yoga With Adriene and Brett Larkin Yoga, my two white-girl yogis of choice these days only underscores that assessment. They both aim to make yoga more accessible to practitioners of all levels, backgrounds, genders, whatever. Yoga for all. Namaste.
If you want some practical sequences, energizing kriyas, challenging asanas, and optional chanting, check out these gals. I have no personal connection to them, nor do they compensate me for my endorsement (but I’m open to offers), but their videos have helped ease my way through another dreary New England winter. For that I am grateful, and I would like to share the optimism.
Brett Larkin also provides chakra-focused meditations, which complement her yoga series. If you prefer a more no-nonsense, broga approach to transcendental meditation (TM), then give Sam Harris a shot. His monotonic voice calms as he creates mental space for connection. And one of his YouTube meditation images is this.
That last goal–writing–is more general than the other two. There are a few reasons for that, the primary one of which is that I have no shortage of topics, ideas, stories, and various media brewing at any one time. Sitting my arse down to focus, carve out time for my craft, and deliberately create something of interest and substance (ideally both, and ideally for an audience as well as for myself), however, has been elusive.
In 2021, “writing” has included journaling, personal memoir, a work-related book that has been on hold, and blogging (obvi). Like many a fellow writer and goal setter, distractions have thwarted the bulk of my efforts. My revenge has been using that as fodder for today’s post.
Joyce Carol Oates teaches a Masterclass about writing, and in the ad she identifies the biggest enemy of writers: interruptions.
She says, “The great enemy of writing isn’t your own lack of talent. It’s being interrupted…by other people. Constant interruptions are the destruction of the imagination.”
Modern life is composed of one interruption or distraction after another. Reaching your goals depends on recognizing this phenomenon and transcending it. For me, it’s a daily battle, and one from which I do not always arise victorious. But setting three simple (not easy) goals and focusing on them day after day has helped me tune out the distractions, slowly but surely. They never disappear. The aim is to coexist and get to work despite their presence.
Procrastination is real. Resistance is oppressive, even (and often) self-imposed. Delays are nearly inevitably. Inertia is common. But giving up is optional.
Some days I bang out 2000 words on a rough draft of a book idea I have been pondering for years, inspired by decades of true life events. I’m not bragging, I promise. It’s just what happens, and it comes at a cost. I may not speak to other living humans on those days, or I may not venture outside.
Other days I jot down three blog ideas in an old-school journal that my mother gave me for my birthday. Last year, not, like, when I turned ten. Although, come to think of it, she likely got me a journal for my tenth birthday too.
Anyway, that’s it–three ideas, and not always complete or coherent ones. Today’s brainstorming session included these gems:
- February is like coming down from a psychedelic trip
- Am I an introvert, or just a tired extrovert?
- The importance of accountability buddies when embarking on a new creative venture
Those million-dollar ideas and this blog post are today’s accomplishments under the “Writing” goal, and that has to be enough, because the day is nearly done.
And, yes, I still met my daily goal. I wrote. In fact, I PUBLISHED my first post in months. I slayed the dragon of resistance. I’m going to get up and attempt to slay another tomorrow. Because that is how this shit works. It’s hard, it’s painful, it’s dirty. And it’s totally worth the effort.
You may know that quote (mis?)attributed to Ernest Hemingway: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
Whether Papa said that or not is up for debate, but the essence of the message is not. Writing is suffering, yet the suffering of not writing is worse. Not a writer? Fill in the blank. What are you avoiding or putting off that is causing you to suffer?
- Filing taxes
- Working out
- Organizing your home
- Cutting back on drinking (or eating sugar, smoking pot, swearing, playing video games, watching TV, scrolling social media and feeling inferior)
- Literally ANYTHING in your life you want to do
Most days, but not all, I choose the lesser of two pains, and know that doing so is a worthwhile goal. Mind you, I did not say an easy, stress-free, or always accomplished goal. But definitely worthwhile.
Don’t believe me?
Try it. Every day for a week. Then every day for another week. I’m in the trenches with you, even if your goal is to start a scrapbook or master the art of ikebana.
What are your goals? I’d like to hear about them. Sharing mine with my accountability buddies, and with you, have helped me continue with the daily practice of reaching them. Even if I only close my eyes, touch my toes, and jot down a few fragmented blog post ideas, I feel accomplished. Powerful. Gratified.
Or at least like a slightly better version of myself than I was yesterday.
And that is grand.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.