At the outset of the year-long Professional Coaching Certification (PCC) course I took at New Ventures West, we spent the first three months focused on our own development, to help ensure that we had sufficient self-care and self-awareness to serve others well. One of the course requirements was to take up a new practice of our choice. We did this to remind ourselves about passion, discipline, and growth mindset. Whatever the practice, it called for learning in an integrated way, using our heads, hearts, and bodies.
Taking up a new practice on top of everything else we were juggling also taught us firsthand about breakdowns—times we feel crummy and get in our own way, without being sure how to get out. Breakdowns hinder our discipline. And, they provide just as much fodder for growth as success does. They offer an opportunity to get curious and clearer about our intentions and attentions.
As I witness my coaching clients and friends do this work, I continue to see the power of taking up a new practice with intention and joy, plus appreciate the learning that comes from reflecting on breakdowns. And I know it’s my turn to step in again. In addition to revising a few current practices in my life, I am ready to commit to a new one. Perhaps this is true for you too.
My New Practice
Truth: I have been an on-again, off-again writer throughout life. And though I know I enjoy life more when it includes writing because it helps me feel vital and grounded—I’ve been inconsistent.
Inspiration: a friend brought a 1960’s Smith-Corona Electra 220 Mark II to our Summer Solstice party and then left it as a gift! It was an outdoor party, but we needed to plug this baby in, so the typewriter ended up in my little “She Shed” which I generally use for yoga, meditation, and coaching.
Memories: As several of us gathered around Smithy that night and instantly started crafting a collaborative poem, taking turns at the keys, I was flooded with memories. One from junior high typing class, where we learned to increase our speed by typing to what our teacher called, “Plink, plink music,” perfect-tempo records our teacher played on a turntable, while he danced and smiled at us. And another memory from college years, when I earned money by typing up class notes that we sold to students for popular intro. level courses. I loved that job because I got to learn content while also geeking out about improving my speed and accuracy, typing up to 120 words per minute at one point.
Commitment: Since Summer Solstice, there has definitely been an uptick in my writing. I’m passionate and I have a growth mindset, but what I’m missing is discipline. So here’s my public commitment: At least 3x/week, I’ll share a poem + photo on Instagram (@onlytogrow), often haiku. I’ll pen at least one fuller poem every week. I’m committing to this practice for two months, through mid-December, when I’ll re-evaluate.
Intentions: My intentions behind the practice are to enjoy the bodily pleasure of writing at a typewriter, allow myself to experiment and play, embrace messiness and mistakes, notice the world around me, and work my poetry muscle.
Invitation: If you, too, feel ready to commit to a new practice, tell me or others about it! As a superfan of community energy, I’d love to know what you’re up to in the world. If this structure of naming your truth, inspiration, memories, specific commitment, and intentions helps you, please borrow or adapt.
Last, yet certainly not least, a love poem
Me and Smithy, Out in the Shed
I am already attached to you
even though it is really too early
in our relationship
I realized it when I turned you on
and you did not respond predictably
It took awhile for you to engage
I had to jiggle things and play with parts
give you more time to warm up
And I realized for the one thousand and seventy-eighth time
that everything, even you,
has a limited life span
and that is what makes being here so beautiful
sad, true, and able to be felt
If I just open the door of the little room
put my list aside and feel the words
all they mean
running through me like electricity
where my electricity meets yours and gets bigger as ours
then things get a little loose and messy
through my mistakes with you I grow closer
and oh how I like the feel of you
the solidity and responsiveness of your bones
the way you hum, the way we click
the way my muscle memory returns
as I tap into your thrummmm
so to hell with efficiency and supposed to and polish
I shout my indecorous, imperfect relationship with you
to the hot flowers of summer
and they drink it in
not like water, but like the way it is