Today is the Day After 100. I didn’t even check in on the magical day 100, because I didn’t have the chance. Too busy with teaching, and making giant leaf piles in the yard with the neighborhood kids. And today, Mini Me was supposed to be in preschool. But her head and hands felt feverish last night, and I opted to keep her out of school. So, now we’re sitting side by side on the couch while PBS does something that’s supposed to be educational for kids. (I’m not fooled, but I’m in denial. A girl needs to get things done, after all.) I had planned today to be Day 1 of the Next 100, but I’ve had some thoughts.
Thoughts on the first 100: Nothing goes as expected, does it? Here the old clichés apply: Nothing worth doing is easy. Change doesn’t happen overnight. And, it takes 90 days to make a new habit. That’s why I chose 100, just to be safe. Nice try, but I think it’s going to take longer than 90, or 100, days to make this new habit. At the end of the 100 I can say this: I do practice, in a focused way now, and more than I used to. I’m sure that something has changed, and I’ve probably gotten better. But I’m not feeling it. I need more time.
I do have some insight. What is required for what I’ll call an effective Practice Lifestyle:
Consistency: Same time, same place, every day, when possible. Then it becomes a habit.
Sacrifice: In my house, if I really want consistency, my ONLY solution is to get up before everyone else, make my tea, and run downstairs to the practice room before having to engage with anyone. But that means waking up at 5:00. And that means going to bed early. And that means a LOT of other sacrifices, which may or may not make sense if I want a healthy work/play balance. Sometimes we just need to stay up late and frolic with friends; sometimes we need to say, “I’d love to hang out, but I have an early start tomorrow.”
Flexibility: We have a kid. Parenting is unpredictable. Sometimes kids wake up too early, are sick, have tantrums, need extra attention. For example, right now, Mini Me REALLY wants to play with this laptop. A few more “not right now’s” and I’ll have to give in.
Balance: It makes me really sad when I meet a mom who says she used to be musician/actress/artist, but says she put it aside when she had kids. What about her creative yearnings? Of course, it also makes me sad when I leave my little girl with a babysitter the third day in a row to go a day-long gig. But playdates don’t fill my soul like clubdates, and Mini Me seems like a real happy kid. This lifestyle allows for plenty of beach and leaf pile time, too. And just in the last ten minutes alone, she’s twice said, spontaneously, “Mommy, I love you” and then continued on whatever she was doing. That works for me.
Reality and Forgiveness: Some days it may not be possible to practice. Making a living, balancing a family, and keeping a home together takes time. Practice may simply not be possible to do every day, but I’m holding out for the possibility that it is. Some days in this first 100, I had to let rehearsal or a gig take the place of actual long-tone-filled practice. I called it “redefining ‘practice’” some days. On cynical days, I called it “rationalizing.” But it’s more than either of those. It’s about finding a practice schedule that works for your individual situation and temperament. Don’t use other people’s yardsticks to measure your own yard.
* * *
We’re on a bit of a roll, folks. But still, there’s work to do. New heights to reach. We’re not done yet. I’m going to enjoy the holiday weekend, and use the three-day weekend to lay low and think about goals for the next 100. I’ll see you here on Tuesday morning, refreshed, with new and specific goals, and then we’ll begin again. If you’ve got something else you want to do for the next 100 days (get back to daily yoga, eat healthy, do creative writing, exercise, whatever…) please feel free to pick one and join the fun. See you on Tuesday.
Mini Me, who finally got her hands on the laptop, had this to add:
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