Yoga and Creativity (Part 2)

I couldn’t bend. Physically and mentally. I was sitting with my legs spread wide, then I was supposed to bend forward, forearms on the mat. Deep breath and bend. And… nothing. My body couldn’t do what I was prompted to do. All I could do is sit with my palms pressing into the floor, my head bent… because I could at least bend there.

This pose that I simply couldn’t do usually wouldn’t be a big deal any other day, but today it seemed like a bad omen.

I know my body’s limitations. I know that I need to bend my legs to get into a sitting forward fold, I don’t have the core strength to do crow pose, I’ve just started being able to do upward facing dog. That’s fine. 99% of the time. Today, my headspace was not a place of rainbows and unicorns, so this limitation was met with plenty of self-doubt and frustration.

This has happened before in my writing. Something just wouldn’t bend in my brain the way it needed to, in order to get onto the page in some remotely successful way. The words weren’t right, the feeling wasn’t there, the dialogue was unnatural. I knew what I needed to do, I could picture it in my head. But, when it came down to it, it didn’t happen the way it was supposed to.

And that’s okay.

Sometimes words don’t come out the way they need to; sometimes that yoga pose doesn’t look the way it’s “supposed” to. But, that’s life. Life is frustrating, it doesn’t bend, it’s a little awkward and messy.

My favourite yogi, Adriene Mishler of Yoga with Adriene, has a great saying that can be applied to life as much as yoga: Find what feels good.

Basically, it means that the shape of the pose doesn’t matter as much as how it feels. If your one-legged pigeon is a little wonky, that’s fine as long as you’re not hurting yourself and it feels good. If you look at it from a wider perspective, it can easily apply to most things in life. My process of writing isn’t going to be the same as yours. What you need to do to get your story out isn’t what I need to do. If it isn’t what the “professionals” are doing, that’s just fine, as long as it feels good for you.

The thing is not to let your feelings of self-doubt be in control, as it seems they inevitably will be when you compare yourself to someone else. That’s what I needed to take away today, after some self-reflection and mindfulness. Maybe there will come a time that I stop comparing myself to those I admire, but today is not that day.

Cheers!

Yoga and Creativity

I’ve been doing yoga on and off for about 6 or 7 years. My entry into the yoga world was actually through something called “Hoop Yoga” (Yoga with hula hoops! How fun is that?) in my first years at university.

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I will be the first to admit I have a complicated relationship with exercise. Growing up, I wasn’t completely uncoordinated, but I wasn’t great either. Organized sports sucked for me because I’m not a runner… I don’t like running. So after gym class was no longer required for me, I turned into a bit of a mushroom.

Going to university, I had free access to a wide variety of classes, so I was able (with the encouragement of much more active friends) to find alternatives to the exercises that I wasn’t crazy about. Hoop Yoga was a highlight for me, because it wasn’t an intense workout but I still felt like I was challenging myself. I had the flexibility of a wooden board, but I enjoyed myself.

It wasn’t until after I graduated and moved home when I realized I needed to do something to keep my body moving. No more mushroom! I dabbled in at-home Pilates (with Blogilates on Youtube) before transitioning more towards yoga. I found Yoga with Adriene on Youtube and it was like finding a cozy yoga nook!

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My yoga routine isn’t as consistent as I’d like, but any time on my mat is a treat. It has been a wild wonderful journey. It took a little time to accept that I would never have a typical itty-bitty, flexible “yoga body,” now I see that any body doing yoga is a yoga body.

While yoga has helped me touch my toes and connect with my body (aka stop seeing it as a meat sack I’m dragging around), it’s also helped me get into a better mental space. It’s one of the only moments where my mind will actually be quiet and I’ll be fully in the moment. A complete miracle moment.

Having those moments allows the clutter in my brain to clear and make room for more productive and creative things.

I find that when I don’t have much time to do yoga for a period of time, I also lose momentum in my writing. It’s as if yoga helps fuel my creative motivation.

The connection that I’ve formed with my body and my mind, and the process of checking in with myself, has improved my self-image and confidence in my abilities on the mat and off the mat. The clarity and confidence allows me to move through my creative project more sure of myself.

What’s great about doing an at-home practise is the pressure is off. As someone who constantly compares herself to others, doing yoga by myself has allowed me to use only myself as competition. It’s allowed me to grow in my practise more freely and at my own speed–which is a big plus for me in doing any sort of exercise.

My yoga practise is about showing up for myself, feeling good about myself physically and mentally, and finding peace in order to move forward in a positive mental place.

P.S. If you’ve ever thought about doing yoga at all, I’d recommend checking out Yoga with Adriene, she’s got a great selection of beginner yoga videos.

“It’s coming along”

Or

How to Tell Your Family You’re No Farther Along with Your Book than the Last Time They Asked

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The holidays have just passed and I’m sure you saw at least some form of family or friends, and if they know you’re a writer I’m sure they asked you how your writing is going. It happened to me at least twice.

While it’s nice to have family that cares and is interested in your writing, it can be a little awkward if you don’t have much to report.

Here’s a quick and easy guide to come out of those situations looking like an impressive writer person!

Step 1: Be as vague as possible.

Depending on where you are in your writing journey, you can use different buzzwords like: draft, revising, narrative, plot, characterization, dénouement, Freytag’s pyramid… in the hopes that using such words will make you sound well-educated and knowledgeable about writing in general.

Example: “Thanks, uncle Darrel. I’m drafting my novel and really working on my characterization. I want to make sure the introspection of my protagonist through flashbacks is especially efficient during the falling action.”

Step 2: Prepare for the question, “When can I read it?”

There is a good chance that whoever is talking to you will ask if or when they can read it. THIS IS SUPER NICE! Having someone who wants to read your writing is the best thing. When you don’t have anything worth reading yet, it can be awkward.

Be honest! Tell them it’s not ready yet, but you will let them know when it is.

Example: “I’m glad you want to read it, cousin Carol. The story isn’t done, but I’ll let you know when it is and you can be the first to read it.”

Step 3: Appreciate having such a supportive family

Example: “Thank you so much, aunt Beth! I’m so glad you’re interested in my writing.”

Step 4: Believe in yourself and your talents

The fact that you have people who want to read your writing is amazing! You are putting in time and effort to create this piece of art and that is amazing! It might not be getting done as fast as you want, but the process of writing is a complex and unique journey.

Enjoy the journey and don’t sweat the awkward questions! You can do it! Keep writing! You’re a rockstar.

2018: A Year.

2018 has been a year. January feels as if it was 5 years ago, and I swear it was October yesterday. But here we are, in the last days of 2018 and I have feelings.

It’s easy to get caught up in all the things one wanted to do in the space of 12 months, but it’s important to instead focus on one’s accomplishments (big or small). This year, instead of looking back and seeing all the things I didn’t do (*cough* meditate, eat better, finish novel *cough*), I’m going to focus on the positives.

This blog post is in three parts: accomplishments, favourite things, and goals.

Accomplishments

While I may not have FINISHED my manuscript, I did get it to its final draft. 11/29 chapters are fully edited and I’m happy with them. I’ve still got a little ways to go before it’s completely done, but I think I can safely say that I can/will start querying agents in 2019!

In 2018, I wanted to get more involved in the online writing community. I was more active in my online writing groups and I was better at maintaining my social media presence (aka actually posting on a regular basis). I also learned about twitter’s writing community and I’m more active in the weekly hashtag thingies.

One thing I feel especially proud of is investing in myself by starting a real, professional-looking blog. This one! I’ve been posting semi-regularly with content I’m passionate about, like the book reviews and blog posts about my writing journey. It feels more coherent and better put-together than my old blog.

Something that’s not quite so writing related, but I’m still proud of is that I read 36 books in 2018. That’s the most I’ve read in one year I think maybe ever. If you want to see what books I’ve read, you can find them here.

Favourite Things

Earlier this year, I wrote a blog post of my favourite books that I’d read up to that point. It’s time to look back and actually pick a favourite… I’m so bad at picking just one favourite anything…

Book:

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

I read Practical Magic before this one because I LOVE the movie version, but I found that I enjoyed reading The Rules of Magic a lot. A LOT.

A very close second (because I can’t resist including more than one) is The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden.

Movie:

Annihilation

There were a lot of really good movies out this year and with amazing diversity, which I am HERE FOR! But, according to the horrible rule I gave myself, I had to pick one. And I’m a sucker for Natalie Portman. Annihilation also happens to be based on a book, which I read after watching the movie. All I can say is… wow.

Honourable mention goes to Black Panther (obviously), Ocean’s 8, and Christopher Robin… and A Wrinkle in Time.

I’m very bad at picking one.

Food:

SOUP!

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This year I discovered the amazing power of eating soup. As a child, I didn’t really like soup, but this year my love for soup has gone up exponentially.

My favourite soup is a potato, bacon, and cheese soup. It’s basically a baked potato in soup form. A close second is the butternut squash soup from the Magnolia Table cookbook.

Honourable mention for “food” goes to the Lobster Tacos from Made in Mexico in Newmarket… SO GOOD!

Can you tell I’m not good at this?

Show:

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

This show technically isn’t from 2018, but I discovered it this year. I’m sad I didn’t check it out sooner! This show just tickles me in the best possible way. The first two seasons are on Netflix, so definitely check it out if you like Dr. Who but on Earth with Elijah Wood.

Honourable mention goes to The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Schitt’s Creek, Queer Eye, and Outlander.

These were a few of my favourite things!

Goals

Despite New Year’s resolutions being a bit over-rated, I can’t help but think about the things I would like to do in 2019.

  1. I’d like to finish my manuscript FINALLY and start querying it (does that count as two goals?)
  2. Write more book reviews. I only did three this year, so it won’t be hard to beat.
  3. Read more books! Maybe aim for 37?
  4. Continue research for viking novel! (At least it won’t be hard since I’m already doing it)
  5. Start research for fun blog project (it’ll be a surprise so look forward to it)!
  6. Focus on the positive!

If you have any goals, I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment and spread the love! Best wishes for 2019!