practice |ˈpraktəs| / by Ciona Rouse

practice |ˈpraktəs|

n.

1. the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use

2. repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it

3. essential to your crazy thing!

 

I’m naturally a thinker and a feeler. I’m not a do-er by nature. I don’t inherently thrive off of getting things done or drawing red check marks next to words on a list of to-dos.

When my day ends I love to I reflect on how I felt about the day, what I learned, for what things I am grateful. And I can think through an idea like nobody’s business! I’ll think and dream and come up with more ideas. But my self-worth isn’t based on what I accomplished, how much I got done or what I need to do next, so making sure I do everything before the day ends just isn’t my modus operandi. 

It’s not a bad thing. It’s important for us to check in on how we’re feeling and listen to the things on our hearts. After all, joy speaks passionately into the direction we are meant to go

And, truth be told, I actually like that this is how I’m wired. I feel intuitive and able to follow my heart, which has yet to fail me. I feel imaginative and creative and full of new ideas without being boxed into a list!

At the same time, I know I’ve allowed the fact that I’m not wired as a task-manager to be an excuse at times. I’ve gone to bed thinking about poems I want to write instead of actually writing them. I’ve decided that I need to feel inspired or have the idea perfected before I can start, so I end up procrastinating on major projects. Being a thoughtful feeler hasn’t been all joy. As much as I love it, I’ve also wished I could be skilled at just doing the dang thing. 

 

 

I live out this internal struggle in this poem I wrote one day, wishing my younger self could have learned these skills back when it was easier to pick up new tricks: 

a letter to 6-year-old me

decide to be a calendar person
learn to like those little boxes and
fit your days inside of them
let your first to-do be
to get used to to-dos

turn in all assignments on time
and find joy in the feeling of
checking off your list

fall in love with order and follow-through
trust me—
this will make life much easier to be you

and as you master this,
whatever you do

grab a coloring book in the wee hours
of every night and color
all skies white and each cloud blue
make your rainbows VIB G. YOR
and your trees bright purple
and be sure your scribbles stretch
beyond any border you choose

What I’ve learned, however, is that we don’t have to be children to learn a new way of doing things. Each day I have to intentionally practice the art of doing in order to move toward my goals. 

And goals are my first part of the practice. When we set goals, we have an opportunity to get outside of our heads and give ourselves some measurable aims. I have had to learn different ways to practice goal-setting since it’s not my nature to write down goals and steps to achieve them, but it’s been so valuable. 

I also rely on resources like Good Idea. Now What?, life coaching and the accountability and feedback of the people in my life who love me. Resources teach me how to practice things that don’t come naturally and help me grow. 

Then there’s the practice of actually doing. When I first decided to run a half-marathon, one mile seemed like a tremendous feat. But I put on running shoes and took the first step, then another step. I learned form, breathing, stretches. I suffered aches and had to learn better ways of training. But I ran. And before long, 1 mile became 13.1 miles. One step became one final exhausted but triumphant step across the finish line with a smile on my face that I’ll never forget.

That’s the practice of doing. Put on running shoes, and go! I remind myself that very few things are un-doable, so we don’t have to do them perfectly. We simply have to do. And so I write, or create, or fill out business forms or purchase supplies—whatever needs to be done to help me live into the goals/intentions I have for the day. I do, I make mistakes, I un-do and then I do again if I have to. The point is to keep moving forward, to practice each crazy beautiful step!