Tell us four things you have made a practice at some time or other in your life. Feel free to interpret the word "practice" as widely and deeply as you like. Did you stick with it? Was it too much? Did it change you?
Yoga. I had the mumps -- really, really bad mumps, both sides, mondo painful -- the summer after third grade. It wasn't a happy experience, but it did have the happy aftereffect of trimming about 20 pounds from my chunky little torso. I resolved to not gain the weight back, so I started my own diet and exercise regimen, with help from the women's magazines lying around our house. (As I'm recollecting this, I'm in awe of my young self. What happened to that spunky and resolute little kid?) This was when all things Indian were popular, thanks to the Beatles, and yoga was the hot new exercise craze. I learned several asanas, enough to be able to go through a routine of them every day. I remember feeing coordinated and graceful for the first time in my life; my yoga practice also alarmed my parents, who were generally alarmed by my precocious and exotic interests anyway, which only added to its cachet for me. I think I kept yoga up for at least six months before I got distracted, which is pretty much the story of my life. Sigh.
Tai chi. Fast-forward thirty-some years. I'd been fascinated by tai chi ever since I was in college and used to pass the campus tai chi club in the morning on the way to class, doing their exercises by the university carillon. Well, actually the tai chi people were on one end of the common, and the equally fascinating morris dancing club was jingling bells and whacking sticks over on the other end, and they both intrigued me. But, anyway, a couple of years ago I got the idea that I wanted to try tai chi myself. Living in Outer Podunk, a community with a dearth of tai chi masters, I opted for a video. It was a video for seniors, with a very patient instructor. I tried -- dear heaven, I tried -- to get through this video...but I never got past the third lesson, because the lessons went too fast for me.
Journaling. From the time I was in junior high, all the way through high school, I was a very prolific and disciplined diarist. I'd buy triple-thick spiral notebooks with college-ruled pages and fill every corner with writing during the wee hours as I hunkered in bed with my AM radio listening to WLS or Wolfman Jack. Of course, it was all completely self-absorbed adolescent brain detritus -- Samuel Pepys I wasn't -- but at least I was faithful.
The Daily Office. I was first introduced to the Book of Common Prayer when I was a college student working in a bookstore; my bosses were Episcopalians very involved in their parish, and they introduced me to all things Anglican, everything from the BCP to Desmond Tutu. I loved the beauty of the language in the BCP, and I was especially taken by the Compline service. But I got busy (this is a running theme), and the book languished in various bookcases and in storage for many years. I went through a Christianity-hostile phase where I gave away most of my Christian books; I think the BCP escaped only because it was too small to notice. After awhile I was a Christian again, involved in a church again, and I was glad to rediscover my BCP among my things.
But I didn't do much with its contents until a couple of years ago, when I started feeling restless and dissatisfied with Sunday worship. It just wasn't enough for me. I happened upon the Online Daily Office . I began praying the Compline. It felt right; it added something spiritually to the day. I added another prayer; then another. Soon I was praying all four prayers of the day -- sometimes the truncated, "household" versions, but praying them nonetheless. And my life started changing in unexpected, wonderful ways; my extemporaneous prayer life exploded; I started experiencing God in a very immediate, intimate way. When I met with my pastor to talk about my enrolling in lay ministry training, I told him that praying the Daily Office had been the vehicle by which God had gotten me to this point; and he wasn't especially surprised.
Then tell us one thing you might like to try that requires practice, attention or commitment.
I have always wanted to be able to sight-read music. And these days, I am most interested in singing Psalm tones, being able to read the pointing. I haven't yet found anyone in my area who can help me in this endeavor, but sometime, somehow, I want to be able to do this, and am willing to put some time and effort into it.