Yogis and writers are in it for the long haul. To misquote Lady Gaga, they don't live for the applause. Or, as one of my graduate mentors put it, academia is not for people who need a lot of affirmation. Instead, as I warn graduate students, academia is mostly wave after wave of rejection. But even that horrible pearl of wisdom isn't quite right.
Careers/lifestyles built on daily practice are mostly about working without any kind of feedback or recognition, either positive or negative.
This is what makes sustaining the work so difficult. If you don't show up at your keypad or at your yoga mat, no one knows except for you. This can be a horrifying and discouraging thought.
This makes me think a little bit about the backlash against online bragging or humblebragging that is starting to occur. While I agree that it can be gross to publicize every little achievement to 400 of your closest internet friends, there's also something to be said for taking time to celebrate milestones and to draw a little attention to the hard work that so often goes unnoticed, even if it's just drawing our own attention to our own hard work.
Today I submitted my registration fee to Yoga Alliance, which means that I am officially a registered yoga teacher. Though there's no yoga Olympics, and I personally don't understand or love the idea of competitive yoga (yes, there is a competition), it's nonetheless nice to take a moment to celebrate, since the moments come so infrequently.
But we needn't have officially-recognized milestones in order to have little celebrations. Jack London, though a horrible alcoholic, did understand how rewards worked. Once he hit his writing goal for each day, he allowed himself to start drinking. I'm thinking that I might choose a small reward for each week that I write all five workdays or each block of 10 yoga asana practices that I complete on my way to my goal of 40 practices in two months.
To misappropriate the words of another American writer, sometimes it might be okay to celebrate ourselves and sing ourselves. (even if it's just a quiet song to the self)
The unofficial theme of this summer is resistance.
My little family--dog, husband, and myself--is on the road this summer, visiting family around the United States. This means lots of time driving, staying in motels, and generally living out of the trunk of a car. Not conditions super-conducive to writing and yoga, also not conditions super-conducive to overcoming the summer I don't wannas.
In addition to feeling that summer is time for the break that's been denied all academic year, because I (like many) live far from family most of the year, summer seems like the opportunity to catch up with family not seen for over 10 months.
All this is to say that it's not so easy to do a daily practice when on the road. Luckily, I have a few very simple strategies that I am hoping to deploy:
1. enlisting my husband's help as a nag.
2. using a grid for ticking off my daily practices--more on this later
3. making my daily work a tool for adventure
About this last point: Yoga and writing are both pretty portable, as it turns out. Their portability means that they can become tools into different local cultures when on the road.
For example, the daily writing practice becomes an opportunity to make a grand tour of a city's libraries an coffee shops. The daily yoga practice becomes the opportunity to try new studios and yoga styles.
For example, through pursuing a daily practice, I was lucky enough to find Better Bodies Yoga in Memphis yesterday, where a Vinyasa class with Janet ( http://www.betterbodiesyoga.com/web/Instructors/tabid/57/Default.aspx# ) offered the opportunity to hear new cues for postures and to get new teaching ideas.
So, in addition to being a way to explore new cities, the execution of daily practice on the road can be a way of freshening things up: What happens when you work at a cafe without internet? Without plugs for your laptop? What happens when you do yoga outside in Memphis? Hot yoga!
Get a Life, PhD
The Professor is In
The Thesis Whisperer
Tenure, She Wrote