I know that many of us are ready to kiss 2016 goodbye: it's been full of public and private heartbreak and loss. However, 2016 has been a banner year in my professional and writing life: a book contract for The Things a Body Might Become with ELJ Editions, a record number of publications/acceptances (43!!), winning the Southern Humanities Review's 2016 Auburn Witness Poetry Prize, spending two weeks each at Firefly Farms and Rivendell Writers Colony, completing Tupelo's 30-day poetry challenge in June, earning a sabbatical for spring 2017, and being promoted to full professor.
So what's next? I ask myself this question all the time. In the recent past, I've been working through an unending end-of-semester to-do list, but as I've finished my grading, letters of recommendation, and other University tasks, I've been filled with excitement and anxiety about what's next during my sabbatical semester: 25 weeks with childcare, 36 total. How to make the most of this gift of time?!
In my overachieving and organized fashion, I've already started a mega to-do list with new poems to write, drafts to revise, author photos to book, a website to overhaul (this can be checked off!), etc. I've been thinking a lot about my patterns of being, how to be and do better, and one of the things I've discovered recently is that I cheat myself of the opportunity to surprise myself by only doing that which I have prepared for.
Yesterday at yoga, the instructor called for any inversion, and I chose to do classical headstand: a pose that I can usually do, one where I feel stable and rooted. I don't lift my feet until I feel my core engage. I feel in control. But then I heard the instructor ask if we had chosen our go-to inversion or if we had chosen to take a risk, to do something we didn't know we could do.
I felt a little sting. I had chosen the safe posture, and some days, it's best to take the safe route: when I am tired and weak or overworked or sick or injured or unbalanced physically/mentally. However, most days, I can and should be taking risks, especially on my mat and in my writing.
When we went into our second inversion, I went for handstand, multiple times. I didn't nail any of them, but I felt that momentary stillness when everything is aligned.
Here's to taking risks, writing toward the poems I want to be writing, and becoming the better version of whoever I already am. See you in 2017.