Why Streak?

Why do anything, really?  Why go to work? Why have another beer? Why take a vacation? Why take a nap?

“Why?” is a great question because the answer to “Why?” will reveal what you believe.

Simon Sinek has a great YouTube and an equally wonderful book called Start With Why that I highly recommend. Check it out and start channeling your inner 5 year-old. Start noticing everything you do and ask, Why?

So, why streak?

Why commit to doing something every day, without a miss, for as long as you can?

Streaks boost your self-esteem. As your streak grows, you’ll become justifiably proud of yourself. A long streak is a testament to having persisted even when you didn’t feel like it. You have proven that you have self-command. You have overcome lethargy and laziness to honor a higher vision of yourself.

Streaks make you trustworthy. The easiest promises to break are the ones you make to yourself: “Who will know if I don’t meditate today?  These little no-stakes streak-promises test your word. Can you keep your word, even if it’s just to yourself and doesn’t affect anyone else? If you can, you know you can  trust yourself and therefore, others can trust you, too.

Streaks are mirrors.  They reveal you to yourself. How do you act when the going gets hard? What happens when you’re tempted to cheat? Do you make excuses or fudge the rules? Do you soldier on? As your streak gets longer and longer, you’ll start to see yourself and your tendencies pretty clearly. This is the beginning of self-knowledge. You’ll see where you’re strong and where you need work.

Streaks give you a solid place to stand. Even if you feel like a failure in every other area of your life, when you’re tending a long streak you can point to it and know that at least here, you’re solid. You know without question that in terms of honoring this commitment, you’re a person in good standing. You feel in integrity.  You can point to your 52-days-of-meditation-without-a-miss, for example, and say, “This is who I am. I am a person who can meditate 52 days in a row without a miss.”

Tomorrow: Writing Your Personal Manifesto

Name It!

Yesterday on Facebook I posted that now that it is May, it’s time for a new Challenge. Someone commented: “Just name it.”

And I was thinking about this. I think I am being asked to say something like: “Yoga 5 days a week. No excuses!”

Maybe they want me to set up a Facebook accountability tool, like I did for my “Intro to Meditation” class a few months ago. (I challenged that group to meditate for 10 minutes a day for a month and they are still at it, months later.)

Maybe I could issue a dietary challenge: NO SUGAR IN MAY. But that might be too much, not to mention cruel.

Today on my way up to Wegmans I was listening to this Robert Greene interview again.  Greene wrote a great book called Mastery, and he was talking about people who say they don’t know what they want to do with their lives. He said you need to figure out what incentivizes you What do YOU want? And it can’t be about making money.

This is totally in line with my “Amp Your Vibe” process of having people list all the things they love and hate and then picking something off that list (the love list) and creating a streak around it.

For example, maybe you would like to write a novel, or dig a perennial garden, or travel to Bali, or learn the ukelele.

Maybe you want to play a respectable game of golf, or beat someone in chess, or learn to surf.

Maybe you want to do a tremendously difficult hike, like the Appalachian Trail, or grow prize winning roses, or get to your ideal weight.

Maybe a headstand or a handstand is on your list, or understanding the stock market enough to make some wise investments.

Maybe you want to learn to code and build an app, or a website. Maybe you dream of writing a popular blog.

YOU name it. Name your thing, then break it down into a 30 day start, commit, and go.

What could you do in the next 30 days that would bring you closer to your dream?

Here’s what I am going to do in May: I want to win the NaNo Badge on 750words.com. That will entail writing 50K words in a month. I also want to do a handstand some day, ideally by the end of the summer, so to that end I am committed to doing handstand prep poses during the “open practice’ sessions during May at the studio.

I don’t want to “Name it.” I want you to. Then I want to hold you to your highest vision of yourself. I would love to support you in whatever you want to do. If you need an accountability partner, I’ll do it. You want some words of encouragement from time to time, or some information? I’ll do it.

I want you to name it and claim it.

This is your one wild and precious life.

Tooth of Doom

My tooth of doom. Number 15. Upper left, all the way in the back. My periodontist has been “worried” about this tooth for years. Every time I go he says, “I’m worried about this tooth.”

Every time he says that I think to myself: “I’m gonna die with this goddamn tooth, Buster.” He’s cute, but a little bit of an Eeyore, my periodontist. When he talks to me with his dental loupes on, I can’t figure out where to look.

Too many eyes to worry about.

Dentist wearing loupes

I’m pretty sure he doesn’t stay up at night worried about my tooth number 15.

But last night I was up worried about tooth number 15. In the last week or so I have been feeling a little, what? Nudgie back there? I opened my mouth to eat one day and there was some TMJ-ish kinda ouchy. But it went away. Then last night I woke up with a mean headache behind my left eye. Tooth of Doom acting up?

Dr. Eeyore  found a little inflammation in tooth 15, and also in my fang (tooth 11) so he squirted some antibiotic in both of those gum areas and I’m to call him in a week with a report. We shall see.

On the food front, I am still craving coffee, and especially so this morning when I woke tired from fractured sleep. I eyed my Verismo with longing and could practically smell the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.

*meep*

I am going to have to talk to Jennifer about this.

I then drove to Culligan to pick up water for home and the studio. The spunky dude who loaded my car with the water read my bumper sticker and said, “I don’t get it.”

I said, “It’s sarcastic.”

My bumper sticker says: “At least the war on the environment is going well.”

I thought of trying to explain it to him. But no.

Today was Day 2 of my attempted yoga streak. I practiced with my late class and that totally counts, even though I feel guilty practicing with them. Better that than letting my practice die.

So I’m all set in my Fundies today.

Another day.

Namaste.

How many streaks are too many?

I want to start another streak. A yoga streak. I need to get my personal practice back. Bad.

The other day I subscribed to Udaya so that I would have lots of classes to choose from and no excuses. My pre-streak started today when I woke up, took a hot shower, slathered myself in coconut oil, put on my yoga togs and walked to Sandy’s class.

Hip openers were on the menu today, and they were sweet. I so appreciate being able to take a class, and not have to teach all the time.  I took Lisa’s spot in the back corner. Now I know why she likes it back there. It’s cozy, you’re under the skylight, and you have the illusion you can’t be seen by the teacher.

(You’re wrong of course, but it’s still nice to pretend.)

I am counting today as day 1 of what I hope will grow into a 108 Day yoga streak.  But it won’t be an official streak until Day 10, which will be April 29th, just as the Yoga Challenge is winding down. *Fingers crossed.*

(I have written extensively about how to start streaks, pick streaks, the benefits of streaking, and what to do when your streak ends.)

The only way I can stay consistent with anything is if I make a Streak out of it. Today is my 60th consecutive blog post here, for example. Even if I wind up writing drivel some days, I am going to see how long I can keep this going.

I am also tending a meditation streak and this week I will hit 80 consecutive days without a break. (Previously, my longest streak was 120 days.)

I am also back to writing in 750words. Here’s what my homepage looks like today:

750 words full size screen shot

 

My longest streak on that platform was 1029 days. I have just about every badge on that platform except the NaNo badge. Next month I am going for it, which will entail writing 50K words in 1 month.

What this means is that I will be tending 4 streaks simultaneously: Blogging, Meditation, Yoga, and 750words.

I love how these streaks both structure my days, and add value to my life as they keep me aligned with my highest goals and aspirations.

But I also know the more streaks I have going, the greater the probability that I will bonk. It’s like juggling. Two balls are easy, it’s when you add the third and the fourth balls that you court disaster.

Disaster here I come.

I’m A Good Detoxer (thanks to Streaking)

This is my 51st post in a row. I started posting daily on Ash Wednesday (February 18th) and I’m still going, even though my stated commitment for this streak was only until Easter, which was 5 days ago.

What can I say? I love streaking. Once I get a little streak going, it kills me to break it.

The big problem with blogging every day is not so much coming up with things to write about, I can write about anything. It’s coming up with things to write  that both interest me, and interest others.

Today  I was telling Kate, my hair stylist about my current detox. This detox is another thing I am streaking at the moment: I haven’t had sugar, caffeine or alcohol since March 24th (17 days).

As I was telling Kate about how I sip hot water all day to flush my lymphatic system, and dry brush before my shower, her assistant and other people who work there began walking within earshot of me, and then started asking me a million questions about why, and how do I do it, and how do I keep motivated, etc.  So I basically did a mini-Health Coaching session as I was getting my hair foiled.

I think people love to learn about eating and detoxing strategies, and they are especially impressed when you tell them that you have been able to sustain what they see as an act of extreme austerity for 17 days. Everyone, it seems, wants to give up these things for at least a little while, but nobody knows how to actually DO it.

So maybe I should be writing here about how I manage to stay the course when so many people can’t even get on the course?

I think my wonky eyelid problem incentivized me this time. Nothing like having your eye suddenly look like you’ve been punched to scare you off sugar, etc.

But now that I have figured out the eyelid problem and eliminated the offending culprit, I could, feasibly, go back to drinking my blessed morning coffee, and having a nice glass of wine on Friday night. But I can’t bring myself to do it, at least not yet, because, you see,

I have this little streak going and I want to see how long I can keep it going.

I want to see how much better I can get myself to feel. I feel really good right now, but I am still craving coffee, and also to some extent, sugar.

I want to get to the point where I don’t crave anything, and then keep going past that to the point where I plateau. Right now I am trending “up” in a pretty steep line in terms of energy and getting quality sleep. What I am really curious about now is: Where am I going to peak, and how long is it going to take me to get there?  How many more days of this before the “up” trend starts to flatten out?

Is this kind of thing of any interest to anyone else?

Is this worth documenting here? Or is it profoundly boring? I’d love it if you’d let me know in the comments.

Thanks.

 

On Giving Up Fear For Lent

Today I went and got ashes.

I looked Rowena in the eye as she made the smudgy sign of the cross on my forehead, saying , “From dust you came and from dust you shall return.”

I am not a Christian. I lost faith in all that a long time ago, but I must confess I still like a little ritualized discomfort. (I smile remembering all my Lenten “givings up” as a child, some of  which were pretty hardcore.)

When I realized today was Ash Wednesday, and Rowena texted that she might be a little late for our meeting because she was distributing ashes at a service at the University (Rowena is an Episcopal priest), I texted her, “Would you put ashes on me if I came??

She replied: “Of course.”

So I went.

I’ve been reading Brené Brown and Amanda Palmer lately and wishing I had the courage to be more like them, to risk vulnerability like they describe, and do.

Even before going for the ashes, though, I had decided to give up fear for Lent. Not all fear, just a small subset: The fear of writing and sucking at it.

I liked  the prospect of the ashes, especially administered by my friend, as the perfect  ritualized sealing of my intention.

As I walked home in the biting February wind, my hat covering the blotch of dirt on my forehead, I felt the energy shift in my body, just like I used to feel in all those childhood Lenten years.

We are born of ash and return to ash, that is certain. All we have is the interval between, to live with as much courage and vulnerability as we can muster.

I am going to try to be here every day for the next 40, giving up fear for Lent.

 

 

 

The 1 Thing I Am Good At

Yesterday I completed Day 750 on 750words.com

Milestone, I think. No badge for that, but still, the symmetry pleases me.

The one thing I am good at is sticking to things. If I commit to it, I do it.  It’s the one thing my friends and students always say they wish they could do, too.

So lately I have been wondering what to offer at my studio in January. What can I offer that my students might want to learn? What can I teach them that I myself know how to do? Inversions? Arm balances? Hells no. I suck at those.

The big thing they always tell you in yoga teacher training is: Teach What You Know. So it’s unlikely that I will be teaching handstands in the middle of the room any time soon.

But when they tell you “teach what you know” they don’t clarify a few essential things, like: teach only those postures which you yourself have mastered? Or do they mean, only teach those postures that you know how to TEACH?

For example, I can’t do a handstand in the middle of the room, but if I have a super strong student who is kicking up freestyle and almost nailing it but not quite, I could go over and give that person some tips, or advise them to work at the wall a little longer so as not to injure themselves.

But should I just say, “No handstands in this room, please. That is not something I can allow you to do because I, myself do not practice handstand?”

Who knows.

But all that aside, what I do know how to do is practice consistently. My favorite Yoga Sutra goes something like this: A practice that is truly grounded is done incessantly, with reverence, for a long time.

I am good at “incessantly.” I am good at “for a long time.” (I am working on “with reverence.”)

Like 750 words. I have not missed a day for 750 days. That’s 25 months. That’s over 2 years.

I stayed with Holosync for 456 days, which was 15 months, well over a year.

I have been journaling in paper journals since I was 23 years old. Not every day, but consistently enough for me to have amassed an alarming quantity of notebooks in the basement. That’s 37 years of journaling.

I have completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training at Kripalu, a 500 hour yoga teacher at Kripalu, and just recently another 500 hour yoga teacher training at Pranakriya.

This year I completed National Novel Writing Month by writing over fifty thousand words in twenty-eight days.

I have completed the Clean Program, not once, but twice, going 21 days without sugar, alcohol, flour, caffeine and other assorted inflammatory foods.

I have gone on long yoga streaks of not missing a day of practice for hundreds of days. So I think have some street cred when it comes to doing things for a long time. I am good at making commitments and sticking to them. Most people cannot seem to do this, but if they could, they would gain a lot of self-confidence and self-satisfaction from which they could build a life where their projects moved from the “maybe some day” realm into the “I am making this happen” realm.

So what I am thinking of doing is offering to help my students do this for themselves. Because there are tricks to it, and certain mind games that I play to keep these streak things going, and I so I think I will hatch a scheme where I offer to help my students do this through a yoga practice and other little tricky things.

Because most people aren’t lazy or undisciplined, they just self-sabotage. They start too big, or they start too unrealistically. Little baby steps and accountability are what is needed.