Concept sketchbook: Daily Practice

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I blog daily to hold myself accountable. I have not attended art school and probably never will (although…never say never)!  My primary goal is to exercise creativity in a positive way and in writing my third book I want to try something new. I learned about this from creativebug.com’s Lindsay Stripling’s daily practice lesson.  My subscription to creativebug.com is the BEST $8/month I’ve ever spent.

I’m going to keep a conceptual sketchbook and work on it each day, even if I have a super busy day, I’ll make a simple doodle to keep it going.

 

 

 

Set Yourself Up

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Fish in Seeweed – watercolor pens

In training our new dog to like her crate, I randomly place tasty treats inside and keep the door open. When we first got her, she refused to go in – most likely because it reminded her of the kennel where she lived with hundreds of other dogs.

But quickly, she grew to associate her crate with treats. Only happy things happened there: some peace and quiet, a warm bed and chicken jerky.

We can do the same for ourselves. We can create positive associations to activities and places that are good for us that we might not feel so great about right now.

There are a group of cyclists that ride by my community every morning around 5:30 a.m. Most likely, they don’t think Ugh, have to wake up early and go riding again. Instead, they might associate this activity with camaraderie, friendship, and a feeling of vitality.

The ultimate power lies in knowing how to train ourselves to be better.

 

5,000 Hours

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Click to hear her play

 

Malcolm Gladwell estimates it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to be world class at a skill. 

But a new study destroys that rule.

In any case, we’ve estimated that with regular practice, rehearsals, competitions and school orchestra, the girls have at least 5,000 of deliberate practice under their belt. 

In nearly nine years of playing, the girls have not once said they want to quit. I attribute that to the fact that they only play violin – they do not do any other extracurriculars. The upsides of “being good” at something are: self-confidence, self-discipline and optimism! 

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Click to hear her play

 

The Trick

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My doodle of daisies

If you’ve read Aesop’s fable, The Crow and the Pitcher, you know that the moral is “Little by little does the trick.”  My 5th graders read the fable and then were assigned a response: Give an example from your own life that describes this moral.

Here are a few responses:

  • “I got more flexible by stretching every single day, now I can do the full splits!”
  • “I practiced drawing every day and now I’m really good.”
  • “I saved up for an expensive video game by practicing piano every day (got paid $2 each day).”
  • “My mom used to be addicted to soda. Each day, she drank a little less. Now, when she has some, she feels sick.”
  • “We planted watermelon seeds and watered it every day. We got a watermelon!”
  • “I have played tennis since I was three. I play three to five times a week and I’m really good now.”
  • “It’s really hard for me to wake up in the mornings. When my alarm goes off, slowly, inch by inch, I move sideways to the lamp and turn it on and get out of bed.”

 

When can you do little by little to achieve your goals?

 

 

 

Habitats & Habits

I feel sorry for my sixth graders.

When I was in sixth grade, the only technologies to distract me were the TV and radio. I received my beloved yellow Sony Walkman years later. But even then, in order to make a mix tape, I had to listen to the radio on my boombox and catch my favorite song, hit “record” and “stop” at just the right time.

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Now, the barrage of sounds and images are relentless. You can hear the voices of your peers night and day from your phone. You can catch your favorite TV or film or YouTuber or musician 24/7. Filters and editing programs make everyone look slim, smooth and shiny. 

And if you’re one of the very few who does not own a phone, you might be ostracized. You are deemed too poor or your parents are too strict. You’re square (do they say that anymore)! Regardless, laptops are ubiquitous. The temptation to enter fantasy land is everywhere

I just completed reading Eric Barker’s “Barking Up the Wrong Tree.” The book is a compelling read, replete with interesting anecdotes and scientific data to back up his various assertions regarding personal success. One of the most important tips he offers is the adage “control your environment.” A closely linked axiom: know thyself

The most successful and productive people practice this. A few examples:

  • disconnect from the internet while working;
  • place cell phone in the other room;
  • never keep junk food in the house;
  • never hit snooze – get right up (!);
  • work before pleasure;

and so on.

I remind my students that “success” – whatever they define it to be – is within their reach. But they must make a commitment to it and do the necessary work.

Now, more than ever, knowing oneself and taking actions to ensure meeting one’s potential might be the most challenging – yet important – task at hand.

 

1-2-3

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I was preparing to do a backbend with pushups (yes, it’s just as fun as it sounds!) when I was filled with dread and doubt. But Jillian said, “One, two, three!” and I started bending my arms slowly, until my head touched the ground and then I straightened my arms. I did 15 of those. It was grueling. I hated it. I’m glad it’s over.

There’s something about counting…counting down or counting up, it doesn’t matter. Notice when parents tell their kids to do something and they start counting: “ONE…TWO…!” The kids hup to it before “THREE!” Why? They just know they better get going. It’s a weird motivator.

I love this Ted Talk from Mel Robbins. She says the key to success in anything is to know one thing:”You’re never going to feel like it.” You’re never going to feel excited to do those backbend pushups, you’re not going to feel like jumping out of bed to get to work first (well, probably not…) and you’re not going to feel like eating salad instead of cheesecake.

But in those areas of your life that are working, you are doing the things you don’t necessarily feel like doing. You’re exercising self-discipline. Robbins’ “Five Second Rule” is to take action no longer than five seconds from the moment you have the thought, I should…

I should get out of bed now…

I should go for a run…

I should send that email asking for a favor…

I should clean the fridge…

I should go to bed now…

Try it. The rule is, you have five seconds from the time you have the thought. Or make your own countdown!