The truth hurts

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I would bet I learn something new every day—whether it’s a different vocabulary expression from my word-of-the-day calendar my daughter gave me for Christmas (“because you’re a writer”), or something I gained during my yoga practice or while working on the job, or something I read online or in print or something a friend or acquaintance passed along. In these examples, it’s a good idea to double check the source or get a second opinion. But when I really learn something new is when I screw up. And I’m not referring to a simple faux pas. I’m talking about the OMG-you-said-or-did-what!? mistake. Those are the best kind of learning opportunities, in my opinion. Although painful, most times (at least in my experience), they require us to take a deep look at ourselves. We might not like what we see, but the old adage, “the truth hurts” is truer than we’d like to think. Hopefully, then, what we learn will stick.

What new thing did you learn today?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Where the magic happens

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magic

 

During a recent yoga practice, the instructor said (and I paraphrase) that when we give a final push at the end [of a posture]—rather than give up—this is where the magic happens. I believe this concept is applicable to life off the mat, too. When we feel like we’re at the “end,” it’s more important than ever to persevere. For example, countless times I’ve considered shoving my writing aspirations to the back burner. But then I contemplate my characters, run through plot ideas and dabble with scene. I pick up the latest Poets & Writers and discover the perfect contest. And a pitch I submitted to a magazine a month ago was accepted so what can I do? It’s that final push, the one where the magic happens. Whether it ends up published online, in print, makes it to my blog or gets no further than my hard drive—I have to write. Now, where was I?

Where could you stand to give a final push?

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We see what we expect to see

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we see what we expect to see

 

I consider myself a student—not of any university or trade school, but an everyday learner—whether out and about in public, in front of my laptop or with a book in hand. As for reading, not only do I read for pleasure, but also to study the writing craft. While recently perusing* The Writer magazine, I ran across an article titled “Dig in” about the relationship between editor and writer. Within 1,200 words or so, I experienced absolution of every typo I’ve missed during the editing and/or writing process, every omitted detail or similar faux pas. About any shoddy copy edits I’ve been asked in the past—Were you sleeping? How did that happen?—the author reminds: “We see what we expect to see.” The article also speaks upon digging deeper to become better (writers and editors), and highly recommends a second pair of eyes. Oh, and that oftentimes we just need that extra push.

When could you use backup?

*[read: pursuing in the first few drafts.]

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Celebrate your story

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Celebrate your story

 

In “Do you play the comparison game,” I talk about how easy it is to compare our stories and experiences with those of others, and how we might enter into situations or relationships with preconceived and/or unrealistic expectations. Not only is this a waste of time, but it devalues what we bring to the table as far as our knowledge base, background, opinions and emotions. We also have to understand these qualities have shaped us into the unique individuals we are. Oftentimes when we make comparisons, it results in dissension, hurt feelings, low self-esteem and misunderstandings. I think it’s healthy to recognize our differences, but then we must accept and embrace them. If we approach each encounter—each connection—with fresh eyes, an open mind and a pure heart, we can focus on and appreciate the process, rather than worry about the outcome. And, at the same time, rejoice in the journeys of others while celebrating our own.

What will it take for you to celebrate ‘what is?’

Living in the ‘ah-ha’ moment

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ah-ha moment

 

Ever know something in your head, yet it never reached your heart until you experienced an ah-ha moment? That was me the other day during Bikram yoga practice. While bending and stretching, healing my body from the inside out, something the teacher said, something I’ve heard repeatedly (and ramble about in my blogs), pierced my soul, brought tears to my eyes. I say it this way in “Maybe it’s about the story:” We’re told that in life, it’s about the journey, not the destination. The same is true… [in] yoga: it’s not about the final expression—it’s all about the process. I finally get it. To enjoy the journey—the process—removes expectation and allows us to live in the moment. To immerse ourselves. To treasure the person, place or thing with no attachment to the past or the future. And when we do that, we discover peace in the present. I just hope it’s not too late to practice what I’ve learned.

What’s your latest ah-ha moment?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

Avoiding self-imposed ruts

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Self-imposed ruts

 

According to Oxford Dictionaries, a rut is “a habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change.” A friend of mine recently said the difference between a rut and a grave is its depth. (We also have a choice about the one in which we get stuck.) At any given time, we might find ourselves trapped in old thought patterns or routines and feel like guinea pigs going round in one of those wheels because sometimes it seems easier to go through the motions. However, each day is an opportunity to transform our reality—to jump off that spinning wheel and reinvent ourselves. A few tips that have worked for me are to: practice 1) letting go of things I can’t control; 2) making choices that advance my goals; 3) not worrying about what others think; 4) prioritizing and learning to say ‘no’ and 5) engaging in activities that make me happy.

How do you avoid or escape the self-imposed ruts?

Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Body shaming comes in all shapes and sizes

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Body shaming

 

The other day, a couple of (well-meaning) people thought it was okay to comment about my weight on Facebook. If I were heavier, I think it would be un-PC to call me out on it. But I weigh in on the smaller side with a lean BMI. The biggest (no pun intended) thing to note, however, is that my weight is nobody’s business, except my physician’s. What is important is that body shaming is inappropriate toward any size or shape. A few years ago, I wrote an article for In With Skin magazine—titled “Body Image Can Shape Well-Being”—about the ways people close to us may influence our feelings toward our bodies, either positively or negatively, plus tips on how to develop a healthy body image. And as someone who has lived in the shadows of an eating disorder for decades, I speak from experience. It’s okay to express concern (privately, rather than on social media). But remember: words create a lasting impression.

How’s your body image?

Image courtesy of Aleksa D at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Show up, don’t give up

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Show up not give up

The last time I wrote, it came out in bits and pieces—sprinkled throughout the course of a day. It wasn’t the most productive work I’ve ever accomplished, but it afforded me practice at my craft. And that’s okay, because life, in itself, is one big practice (not perfect) that occurs each time we show up. For instance, I’ve returned to my music after a 20-year hiatus. Even though I’ve rehearsed several hours, so far, I have a long way to go before I sound halfway close to my “back-in-the-day” self. My daily yoga is also a study in practice each time I step on my mat. Some days look differently than others, too, depending on what’s going on in my body and my mind. Whenever we show up, even if in bits and pieces throughout the day, our muscle memory will begin to fill in the gaps. Because it’s about showing up, not giving up.

What is one area in life where you could use more practice?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

The ‘write’ conditions

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The write conditions

 

In my post, “When you need a new plan,” I talk about how I would never write if I waited for the perfect conditions. Shortly after composing that blog, I carved out time to give my office a mini-makeover. I didn’t hang any framed inspirational quotes or light scented candles to infuse creativity. But I did toss, file and throw errant miscellanea in a bag for future [read: likely never] perusal. Despite the clutter control I attempt to enforce, not everything retains a spot in my home, however, my desk is now free of excess papers and the floor space around my feet is clear. It’s not perfect, although it is a start. I think that’s a good reminder when we embark on any endeavor—whether it’s mending a friendship, beginning a new job, planning a getaway or whatever it is we’ve been putting off for the ‘write,’ or right, conditions. We all have to start somewhere.

What have you been waiting for the right conditions to undertake?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Where does the time go?

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Where does the time go (2)
This past week I began an experiment that revolves around how time seems to go faster when we’re having fun (and the opposite when we’re not). Although I’ve only studied my hypothesis in the hot room during Bikram yoga, I believe it’s true anywhere. During one 90-minute practice, I had a hard time keeping my mind in the room. I spent a good deal of class lying on a beach, sometimes strolling along the coast to retrieve pretty shells. My thoughts also jumped from how uncomfortable I was, to which asanas I planned to skip, to my lack of remaining water. Class took forever! During the next practice, I focused on the instructor’s words, my breath, my body’s movements and my mantra as I bent and stretched to receive each posture’s benefits. Class was over: Bam! Same thing happened less than 12 hours later. When we fully invest in each moment, time doesn’t go faster; rather, we lose track of it.

When do you lose track of time?

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