Tag Archives: practice

Don’t Pass It By


After Edith Wharton (author of novels The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth, Ethan Frome) began publishing her work in her middle years, she struck up a correspondence with the already respected author, Henry James.  She admired him greatly.  (Insert yawn here because Henry James has that effect on me.)  The two writers communicated by letter for three years before they ever met in person.  When they finally did meet, they became good friends. (Insert image of Daniel Day-Lewis in a frock coat having a fraught with meaning but sexually repressed and whispered conversation with Michelle Pfeiffer in a fussy bonnet.)  

My joking aside–here’s my point.  Like so many people who create, Edith Wharton went through a period when she struggled to find her voice.  She wandered uncommon paths for a woman of her position.  Wharton had been born into an old New York high society family, and was thus expected to marry well and live a presentable life.  Instead, she found herself stuck in a miserable marriage and yearning for her freedom.  (Ahem…Fartbuster, with a far superior dowry.)  She questioned whether anyone would care about the inner workings of the privileged world she knew. 

Henry James encouraged Edith Wharton to stick with writing about the New York City she knew so well–even though she disliked it. He said, “Don’t pass it by — the immediate, the real, the only, the yours.”

This life, the one we spend every day slogging through, is the straw we spin into gold.  We pass by so much in the search for something “important” or “meaningful.”  We climb over mountains of straw in the search for gold, not realizing that it’s lying all around us, waiting for us to work our magic!  

I hope you’ll take a look today at the immediate, the real.  What’s around you that’s beautiful or interesting?  What’s inside you that’s beautiful or interesting?  

Make a Resolution To Practice Gratitude

I write about gratitude a lot, and gratitude journals in particular.  Several of you have mentioned starting the practice for yourselves…so how about now?  Why not add gratitude journaling to your New Year’s resolutions?  

This week, when you’re out shopping for gifts for others, wander on over to the bookstore and buy yourself a beautiful journal.  Put it by your bed.  Each night, jot down at least 5 things that you appreciated from that day.  It doesn’t have to be a complete sentence or punctuated or spelled correctly.  This journal is for you.  

Here’s an early blog post called “Gratitude Grows” that I wrote about the stack of journals by my bed.  It’s been growing there since 2004–that explains the dust.  Richard was still alive in the bottom of the stack.  The purple one is from the year we bought this house.  The red one holds the year he died.  I met G and my children higher up.  The stack has grown by one more since I took this picture.  

gratitude fixed

Raising Grateful Children

Image converted using ifftoanyI’m got a Thanksgiving article on Work It, Mom! called “The Attitude of Gratitude” about teaching our children to practice gratitude.  Check it out!

On the day my daughter was born, I wrote seventeen things in my gratitude journal (#1 was “she is here and healthy.”  #2 was “That epidural was NICE.”)  On the day my husband died from leukemia, I wrote twenty-nine things in my gratitude journal.  That certainly doesn’t mean it was a better day; it just goes to show that there are gifts around us even in the darkest times.  The daily practice of gratitude keeps me in that state where I can receive them.

Wordless Wednesday: Plato and the Turtle

It’s the middle of the week, my friends!  So what have we covered so far?  

You get good at what you practice.  

Practice Makes Progress.  

And now a few words from my buddy, Plato, and a baby sea turtle:

Plato on Progress

If you know someone who is plugging along, share this message with some encouragement!  Have a great day.  

Practice Makes

running women

That’s me in the back. Way in the back. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Carlos was still sleeping this morning after the rest of us were clomping around.  As I crept around in my bathroom, which shares a wall with his bed, it reminded me of all those mornings when I woke at 5am and tiptoed out of the house to go to boot camp.  Before I could let myself remember how good it felt on those days to get out in the dark and work out HARD before my day officially began, I jumped straight to feeling bad about the fact that I don’t do it anymore.  Lately, I have had more practice feeling bad about my body than I have had practice feeling strong.

Boot camp workouts began with some stretching and kvetching then a couple of laps around the track.  Not a race, just an easy-paced run.  At my strongest, I could hang with the middle of the pack.  My best time ever was a 9:50 mile.  At my not so strongest, I was hanging in the back of the pack, about a 13:30 mile with some shuffling sprinkled in the running.  Erraday, I’m shufflin’ shufflin’…

When the super fast women like Becky and Danielle streaked by with their pony tails bouncing back and forth, I tried not to feel like a three-legged Holstein stuck in a bog.  They were busting out 8 minute miles while keeping up a lively conversation.  I tried to remind myself that they are fast runners because they practice it a lot.  They can run like that because they practice running.  They probably can’t quilt worth a shit because they don’t practice quilting.  Yeah, I could SMOKE THEM at quilting. Probably.  Oh, here’s a funny note:  I saw Danielle at lunch today and warned her that I was going to write about “the fast girls.”  She said, “Oh, Becky’s the fast one.  I can barely keep up with her.”  Then I asked Danielle what her fastest mile was and she said…6:20.  Yeah.  One gazelle comparing herself to another gazelle.

My point is–we get good at whatever we practice.  Even the things that aren’t good for us.  If I practice running, I get good at running.  If I practice running myself down, I get good at running myself down.

I’ve been writing every day for over six months and I’m getting better at it with all the practice.  I’m mothering like I never thought I could because I’ve been practicing it for six years (EVERY damn DAY).  I have a new job and I’m getting so much more efficient and exact in my tasks because I practice.  Quilting?  Haven’t sewn in six years, so I would need a little time to get back my running stitch.

Running?  I haven’t been practicing that since Carlos was born.  Running myself down?  Been training like it’s the Olympics without even noticing.  Yes–even as much as I focus on the positive and practice gratitude and cultivate mental health, I spend plenty of time subconsciously telling myself that I’m a fat, lazy, so and so and if I really had any gumption or backbone or SENSE I could make a better effort at being…whatever it is I’m not being.  I didn’t even notice how much I’ve been practicing that kind of messaging.  Ugh.  That crap hurts worse than running.

You know my favorite part of running?  Sprints.  WHAT???  I know!  Shuffling along feeling like my thighs were going to combust then…finding that little something extra that was still hidden in my heart, that let me go all out for a few seconds.  I loved sprinting because all I had to do was go 100% for a little while.  Hmmm.  Might be time to practice that again.  Go for one of my fat old lady walks then RUN.   Oops.  I fell back on my practicing there–I’m not a fat old lady.  I’m a 45 year old woman with 45 pounds I’d like to lose.  And I can run if I practice.

What do you practice?  What’s something you’re really good at because you practice every day?