Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Yoga Changes Everything

Anyone who practices can obtain success in yoga but not one who is lazy. Constant practice alone is the secret of success. —Svatmarama

Six weeks ago, I started taking yoga. Twice a week, I go to class and do the same poses over and over. Each time, I learn a bit more about how to align my body so that I can hold the pose. Even though am getting better at yoga, I still find yoga to be hard work. But I keep at it, because I am enjoying the secret benefits of practicing yoga regularly: I am writing more.

Psychologists have found that people who add one hard goal to their life and keep at it for six to eight weeks often do better in all areas of their lives. So it makes sense that after practicing yoga for six weeks, I would be writing more. I am also exercising more and eating better. Why? Any hard goal strengthens your ability to self-regulate—to control your behavior. And that ability spreads to your actions in all parts of your life.

Here’s the challenge: choose one hard goal to take on for the next six to eight weeks. It might be writing that book you have been thinking about for the last ten years. It might also be revising the novel you wrote during NaNoWriMo. You might even choose to start taking yoga. Whatever you choose to be your hard goal, I’ll bet that doing it changes your life.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Happy Black History Month!

The Dream Keeper
by Langston Hughes

Bring me all of your dreams,
You dreamers,
Bring me all of your
Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world.

When I started my writing group for teens, we named ourselves Dream Keepers after the above poem by Langston Hughes, a writer from the Harlem Renaissance.

When Hughes was in grammar school, he was designated class poet. Hughes said he was chosen because of the stereotype that African Americans have rhythm.

In Hughes’s long writing career, he wrote poems but he also wrote plays, novels, short stories, columns, and even children’s books. Hughes inspires me. He didn’t let the stereotypical ideas of others limit his creativity. In his writing and his work, Hughes dreamed wildly. But Hughes did more than dream—he wrote. 

To celebrate black history month, take a trip to your local library or independent bookstore and read a book by Langston Hughes. Then take one of your own "heart melodies" and write about it.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

New Year’s Resolutions Revisited

Have you noticed? No one is saying “Happy New Year” anymore. Instead, we have settled into a daily pace that feels anything but new. For many of us, despite our resolution making, the New Year may seem suspiciously like the old year.

How about you? Have you kept your New Year’s resolutions? Are you writing daily, submitting your work, and keeping up with your reading? If not, consider this quote from coach Martha Beck:

“Think about your highest purpose in 2011. Set up your calendar to serve that end, and everything will run better.”

I do not worry about doing everything anymore. I know I cannot come close to succeeding at being Superwoman. But I do think carefully about how I spend my days. Still, after reading Beck’s quote, I knew I had work to do. I grabbed my calendar and colored pencils. I scheduled the activities I connect with my life’s purpose. I know that I have a better chance of finishing my book now that I have set aside time in my calendar. 

Take a moment today and revisit those New Year’s Resolutions. What do you want to accomplish this year? Schedule time to write, create art, or take that acting class. Then follow through with your plan. Don’t give up your creative time to do the laundry, have coffee with a friend, or even to take on a new client. Use the time to work on your highest purpose. Now that’s how to have a Happy New Year!