Discern

Image of Adriene Mischler reaching upward with text reading "I'm In! Dedicate A 30 Day Yoga Journey"

January is yoga month, has been for three years running now. Adriene Mischler’s 30 day yoga series on YouTube this year is called Dedicate and that’s exactly what I need to do to so many things. As blogging is one of those things, I think I’ll write up quick posts everyday based around the daily word. Today’s is “Discern.”

The idea is to recognize why you’re here, doing this, and probably to make you think about why you’re here at all and what motivates you. I got on the mat this morning with an intense desire to reestablish a daily practice and working out in general. I get distracted very easily when my habits are broken, even by one day, and I find it really hard to start up again (as evidenced even here, on these pages), so a re-dedication to a daily practice is exactly what I need. I’ve also started following the Couch to 5k program. There isn’t a 5k I’m interested in running, and there may never be, but I am interested in getting outside and being active regularly, to get my stamina up, and to get some good cardio in for my heart. I want to live a quality life for a long time, and I know exercise is the key to that.

With yoga always comes emotional and mental peace for me, and I’d like to get back to that as well. I’ve let in a number of toxic thoughts in the last six months, and I want to clean those out and fill the space up with positivity or at least more useful musings.

The physical yoga today was very basic (which is a word I do NOT associate with negativity, so you go love your pumpkin spice and fuzzy shoes all you want, girl!) The practice was 50 minutes, but the movements were slow and limited in scope. I can see it as a great practice for both beginners and seasoned yogis because it reminds you to be aware of all parts of your body and teaches you patience. Since I’m in the middle of those, I really tried to blank out my mind, close my eyes, and follow her words as intuitively as possible. No, I didn’t sweat (in fact, I shivered because I had a fan on), but I did get a little shaky in my core when I really focused on engaging all of my muscles. If you do it correctly, yoga is an amazing workout, but you absolutely must engage your whole self, including your mind, to get there.

My favorite moment when I’m following any yoga practice is when I just seem to intuitively know where we’re going next, and I get into the next pose a second before the vocal cues happen. I’m not rushing, but my body is just moving that direction already. Of course, it’s largely probably because the poses naturally flow into one another, and when you sync up your breath and your body you just kind of keep going, but I get a nice wave of belonging and purpose in those moments. There are also moments when I blindly start doing something that’s really way off too, so sometimes my spirit’s a little out of sync with the vibe of the video, but that probably makes those instinctive moments even more magical. I had one of those today, and it just brightened up my whole morning.

So I guess that’s why I’m here, to get a little brightness.

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Why Do You Write?

Chris Fox, who I’ve written about before, posted a video recently asking this question: Why do you write? I love listening to videos and talks when I’m doing chores because it gets me in a creative mood, and this was no exception. It’s short and sweet and motivating.

Like most animals, humans are, I guess, compelled to pass on their genes. That or sex is just pretty nifty and babies are a natural outcome of copulation. Either way, I think it’s pretty natural to want to be remembered after we die. My experience in life has been that I am incredibly forgettable. I mean, the year I was born, my name ~Ashley~ was the second most popular, and still I have been called every other A-name under the sun. The likely hood of me being an Amber, Amy, Alison, Adrian, or Aaliyah is significantly lower than Ashley–AND STILL! I am just not memorable, and it’s been a little hurtful and embarrassing, reminding people of my name, how I know them, and just passively listening to them tell me the same stories over and over because they don’t realize that yes, we’ve met before, you blowhard!

Of course, I shouldn’t care, but it’s made me feel pretty insignificant most of my life (though it’s been less prevalent the older I get), so at least part of why I want to write is so I can leave something behind, something to be remembered by, a way to impact other lives. But I realize as I think over what that would be like, I kind of don’t care if people really remember me anywhere near as much as I just care that they get joy out of my work.

Like Chris mentions in his video, there are approximately two camps of people: the artists and the entertainers. I think I fall much more squarely in the entertainer category. Yes, I want to write good books, and I’d love if someone found a paragraph or a sentence that sounded like beautiful prose to them, but if I can bring someone joy, give them an escape from the drudgery and torment of life (not to be too dramatic, but you know) then I’ll have really felt like I’ve achieved something.

I also just want to see my name on a physical book in a bookstore. Hopefully by the time that happens Barnes and Noble will still be around, but I’d really just love to walk into one and see my name on the shelves, pick up a hard copy, flip through the pages, hold it against my chest and twirl around–you know, the typical things you do with books. I know it’s a very superficial thing, but it will certainly be a marker of “making it.”

And do I want to make money doing this? YES. OF FUCKING COURSE I DO. Will I ever be Stephen King or J.K. Rowling rich off writing? No, I will not be, that just isn’t in the cards–BUT I do think I can pull an upright seven of pentacles on this bitch if I work hard enough.

This is a great time, I think, to ask yourself this question if you’re doing NaNo. You’ve slogged through a few days, maybe you’re super pumped and ahead of schedule, maybe you’re super far behind and suffering from a block, maybe you’re completing the exact amount of words everyday and it’s going just fine, but contemplating your truth can only help you. And it’s not too late to start or to catch up right now. Hell, we were just given an extra hour by the universe and the American government–use those 60 minutes to poop out some words! Even if it’s a manifesto on writing, just do it.