The Practice

I was listening to a vigorous debate the other day about New Year Resolutions – should you do them? Is it useful and effective? And while I come down on the side of not doing resolutions, mostly because it seems like a hard starting line to do it in the middle of winter when the days are quite literally the darkest, I do reflexively do some meditation on what I learned from the year we are in before moving forward.

The year 2021 was the writing that I started posting to my blog every day. That practice has changed me in ways that I couldn’t have predicted. While I chose every day as my target, I think the lessons would have become apparent given any predetermined interval as long as it was scheduled and not just when I felt like it.

The first thing it changed was how I think about writing. Instead of something to do when I have time and a perfectly framed story in my head, I have come to love it as an integral piece of self-expression and way to process what my life experience. It’s gone from an accessory to an essential part of my life. Along the way, I started to believe I have something to say worth writing down.

Secondly, it made me wrestle with the idea of creativity and inspiration. Often I think of the Madeleine L’Engle’s quote, “Inspiration usually comes during work, rather than before it.” It’s a koan to me, a riddle that doesn’t become clear until I live it and then has many different meanings. This year, that quote has spoken the wisdom to me of starting. There have been many days that I didn’t know what I was going to write but in putting my fingers to the keyboard, the inspiration came. In that way, it was almost a spiritual practice about showing up that I’ve experienced.

And it’s not just what I post but also in reading what other people post and trying to comment thoughtfully on it. It’s the practice of engaging with the work that has inspired me and pushed me farther than I could have imagined.

And finally, the practice of writing every day has also rooted out my desire for perfection. I say desire because perfection is never something I’ve achieved but only tripped over. Instead of futzing with something endlessly in order to have to feel great about it, I use my allotted time in the morning to meditate, write and read before I wake my kids up. Then I have to hit the “publish” button. Sure, that’s meant I have experienced the stab of thinking of one more thing that I could have included, done better or made the connection to but more than that, it’s taught me to move on. And the thing I could have done better becomes the next thing I learn.

All of this comes together in a way that makes me think that while practicing might be the less visible sister to goals, it is an equally powerful tool to set the course of who we want to be and then experience the openness of where it takes us.

The key is to set a schedule instead of doing it when I feel like it. Whether that is doing random acts of kindness every weekend or a plank exercise every weekday, I know that it’ll start an intentional change towards and I’ll learn something interesting just like I did from creating a writing practice.

What about you? Resolutions? Goals? Practice?

Please come visit my personal blog at https://wynneleon.wordpress.com .

Follow me on Instagram at @wynneleon

(featured photo from Pexels)


27 thoughts on “The Practice

  1. Thank you, for your insightful post Wynne. A new year is special for all of us, every time we start our journey with a positive approach and energy. But when it comes closer to the end we started losing the energy and resolutions. I will go for regular practice to improve my writing skills and knowledge.

  2. I had to stop and remember that I was writing for people to read what I had to say, but was I listening to their words? I just started the path where I intentional spend minutes everyday reading other peoples blogs, and while some I leave me shaking my head and others have me wanting to have coffee with them- my writing and my thought process has become clearer. Thank you for being a fellow writer and reader

    1. Such a great point Rose. Yes, reading other people’s blogs is such a learning experience too. I totally agree. And there’s something about that willingness to engage by commenting that makes a difference. So thank you – for reading and commenting!

      1. Ha, I didn’t even notice. I’m too used to trying to type with kids around interrupting so I think my brain edits it out. Sending my best to you and your dog! 🙂

    1. Yes! – I like how you put it as purposeful practice. Wishing that Intention and practice for you and us all! Thanks for reading and commenting, Deb!

    1. I couldn’t agree more! It’s totally arbitrary as a starting line as opposed to when we are ready to make a change! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. I’m not a big fan of New Year resolutions. If something is worth doing, it is worth doing now and not some arbitrary date in the future. But humans like to have traditions that involve calendar dates.

    People who live a lifestyle more attuned to the seasons and nature find a lot more meaning in New Year that us techno people.They would consider the year’s beginning to be the day after Yule which is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. (At least in the northern hemisphere. The seasons in the south are 180 degrees out of phase from us.) Agricultural man assigned the day great religious significance. Right after Yule would be a natural time to start planning the next year’s activities. Aside from feeding the livestock, there’s not a lot else to do.

    Since New Year is the traditional point at which we are supposed to celebrate the past and contemplate the future, I can see that people who take the tradition seriously would find comfort in it. If that contemplation leads you to make changes in your life, that’s a good thing.

    There are many people for whom self analysis and self criticism would never occur to them unless prodded by the holiday.That’s a good thing too.

    1. What interesting context and history, Fred. And more than that, you do a wonderful job of explaining the cycle as it applies to work, religion and life. Thank you for that. Excellent point that if holidays spur resolutions and it works for some, more power to it and them! Thanks for reading and commenting. Happy New Year!

  4. Thank you for a wonderful blog, and for expressing in words that which I have not. At the start of the Covid shutdown in March of 2020, I launched into a daily blog-a-thon that lasted for 90 consecutive days. Ultimately, the blogs became a spiritually-oriented self-help book published in November 2021. The experience of writing both blog and book sent me into a spin of extraordinary self-discovery, insight, and increased self-awareness. There were moments of joy, amazement, fear, inspiration, intuition, delusion, and self-doubt. Many of the blogs are expressions of my experience as I went through these highs and lows. Embracing the idea of writing a daily blog as a spiritual practice rather than as a strict discipline or chore shifted moments of negative energy into an enlightening experience—which made it all worth the time and effort (and the agony and the ecstasy!). Thanks again for your insightful blog!
    For a little example of my experience as a blogger, please take a little peek at https://www.voicesinmyhead.blog/

    1. Thank you so much for this great story of your incredible experience. I love your sentence above, “Embracing the idea of writing a daily blog as a spiritual practice rather than as a strict discipline or chore shifted moments of negative energy into an enlightening experience—which made it all worth the time and effort (and the agony and the ecstasy!).”

      I’m sorry it took me so long to respond – the comment ended up in pending so I didn’t see it for a while. But now I’m delighted to have the URL to your blog so I can see the product of your amazing practice. Thanks, Julia!

  5. It needs 3 or 4 weeks for a new task to become a habit. So anyday or time is fine, but since it is advertised why not make use of the opportunity since atleast for a month whenever someone wishes you New year resolution also comes as a part if the conversation. Maybe you would become accountable? Happy New Year

  6. I love this. The desire for perfection often cripples us rather than cause progress. I love the idea of just setting a schedule and following through with it whether or not you feel like it. This way you are actually achieving things as opposed to waiting for everything to fall in line and be perfect, a situation that may never be. I’ll try scheduling some things in my life and see how that works out for me. Thanks for sharing this 👍

    1. Well said, Trenzz, “The desire for perfection often cripples us rather than cause progress.” That resonates with me so much! I hope you find much satisfaction in scheduling!

      Happy New Years! Wishing you the best in 2022!

    1. Well happy birthday, Ananya. Wishing you best on your birthday and the many years you have to come to decide whether resolutions or practice work for you!

  7. Thank you for a wonderful blog, and for expressing in words that which I have not. At the start of the Covid shutdown in March of 2020, I launched into a daily blog-a-thon that lasted for 90 consecutive days. Ultimately, the blogs became a spiritually-oriented self-help book published in November 2021. The experience of writing both blog and book sent me into a spin of extraordinary self-discovery, insight, and increased self-awareness. There were moments of joy, amazement, fear, inspiration, intuition, delusion, and self-doubt. Many of the blogs are expressions of my experience as I went through these highs and lows. Embracing the idea of writing a daily blog as a spiritual practice rather than as a strict discipline or chore shifted moments of negative energy into an enlightening experience—which made it all worth the time and effort (and the agony and the ecstasy!). Thanks again for your insightful blog!
    For a little example of my experience as a blogger, please take a little peek at https://www.voicesinmyhead.blog/

  8. Wow I like and each and every word you published here Leon. Resolutions according to my opinion come from your own understanding and what action/practice you would want to take after evaluating those resolutions👏

    1. I like how you flipped resolutions into something that drives a practice. Very nice! Thank you for your nice comments and reply! Wishing you the best in 2022!

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