As the semester heads to its peak, my calendar looks like a grid of starbursts. Color coded blocks with events, meetings, appointments, and important dates staring at me multiple times a day reminding me of how busy this Spring is going to be.
What’s the best thing to do at times like this? Give myself some time to rest? Was that what you were thinking?
It is time for daily practice!
April is April Daily Kanji month. I did this for the first time last year, followed by August Daily Kanji a few months later.
The main purpose of April Daily Kanji is commit to brushing one Kanji every single day no matter what.
No matter how tired I am, no matter how busy I am. “I have no time,” is not an excuse. “I don’t feel like it” is not an excuse. It is the time to kick myself in the ass and say I need to brush everyday, even if it’s only one Kanji.
Calligraphy is a practice where you get better with time, but if you stop, you kind of loose it a little bit. And it will take some time to get it back. It’s kind of like running. You can run 3 miles as long as you keep running. If you stop, it’s not like you can’t run anymore, but you won’t be able to run 3 miles in one shot. You’ll have to work yourself up to it again.
The times where my calligraphy have been the best, has been during those two months last year when I was brushing every single day. My brushstrokes were on point. My hand was steady. My ki was strong. I was in shape. The months were I’ve been noticeable inactive, like October and November, my calligraphy is not as strong.
I know this. And this is why I loved April and August Daily Kanji. I picked the month of April because I couldn’t be busier. And I want to make sure that my Shodo practice is not an afterthought for me. It is front and center; the driving force of everything I do.
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. That is because I am 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.
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.
When I did this for the first time last year I did it by myself. I shared a picture of the Kanji I brushed everyday on Instagram. When I did it again in August I had some of my students of Learn Shodo doing it with me. We shared our Kanji everyday on the Online Course Private Facebook Group. It inspired them to keep going. They knew I would post my Kanji and I was expecting theirs. I saw so much progress in their calligraphy during those 30 days. And I’ll tell you, most of them still practice today. They already know we’re heading into April Daily Kanji and I smiled when I read one of them commenting: “I need this to kick me out of only practicing 1-3 times per week.”
If you want to participate in April Daily Kanji, 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 #AprilDailyKanji as well as Snapchat if you follow me there.
Don’t really practice Shodo?
That’s ok. Pick a practice you’re interested in. Writing, reading, exercising, anything creative or productive 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.
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.