April is just two weeks away and that means is time for 30 Days of Shodo!
As the semester heads to its peak, my calendar looks like a grid of starbursts; color coded blocks of events, meetings, appointments, and important dates all staring at me multiple times a day.
What’s the best thing to do at times like this? Find time to rest, you think?
It is time for daily practice!
My culinary students start to worry about their comprehensive practical exam coming up. They have to cook 5 courses in a span of 4 hours including breaking down a whole chicken and a whole fish. It is a daunting task for sure. I stressed, at the beginning of the semester when I go over the requirements of this exam, that the only way to pass is through lots of practice. One time I had a student that completely butchered his chicken to pieces; it was mangled to the point where I couldn’t tell a breast from a thigh or even scraps.
“How many chickens have you broken down all year?” I asked.
“None,” he responded.
“None?”, I said shocked. “How would you expect to know how to break down a chicken if you don’t practice? You need to break down at least one chicken a week for the whole semester.”
I tell my culinary students: “do you want to get good at cooking? You need to cook everyday.”
Constant, deliberate and intentional practice is the key to success. The more you do it, the better you get at it. There are no shortcuts, or tricks, only countless hours of practice and honing your skills.
That’s the purpose of 30 Days of Shodo. During the month of April we commit to brush one Kanji every single day no matter what.
My calligraphy is the best during 30 Days of Shodo. My brushstrokes are on point. My hand is steady. My ki is strong. I know this. And this is why I love April and August; the two months I do the 30 Days of Shodo challenge.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. I am not taking on this activity to give myself more work, or to brag about my hustle, or not even to get better at Shodo. I am doing this to slow down during such a busy month.
A month like this coming up can lead to burn out. It can make me massively cranky and moody. I am usually overwhelmed with everything going on: life, work, family, commitments, etc. I need an activity that’s going to center me, bring me back to my place of steadiness and awareness. The best analogy I can think of is that I am going to be in the mud all month, and I just want to make sure I get a shower every day to clean myself up before going back in the mud. The shower is taking 5-10 minutes a day to brush one Kanji. No matter what.
I know it sounds contradictory to impose myself such a commitment during a time when it’s going to be hard to catch my breath. But I tell you, it will be the most important thing I do all month long.
The truth is that there is no such thing as 30 Days of Shodo. I will not be brushing 30 kanji. In reality, I will be brushing one Kanji. We don’t live 30 days at once. We only live one day at a time. So I can’t say I’ll be doing a 30 day challenge; all I’m doing is a one day challenge, because I only live one day at a time.
If you want to participate in 30 Days of Shodo, all you need to do is brush one Kanji every day for the entire month of April. I will be posting my Kanji everyday on Instagram with the hashtag #30DaysofShodo so make sure you follow me there.
Don’t really practice Shodo?
That’s ok. Pick a practice you’re interested in. Writing, drawing, painting, reading, exercising, anything creative that will help you find your center. Do that every single day for 30 days. The most important thing is, and I repeat it again: No. matter. what.
The most important thing is to practice, not to brush a masterpiece. I say “no matter what” and I mean it. Not brushing everyday is never an option. Whatever happens in your day find a way to brush everyday.
I once heard someone say that if you pick one activity, no matter what it is, and you do that consistently, every day, it will change your life.
Make April the month where you change your life.