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Mar 10
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Being You is a Practice

by Kelsey Blackwell

This article was originally posted here at The Marvelous Crumb

Happy Lunar New Year!

Year of the Rat — known for industriousness, thriftiness, diligence and positivity.

That feels about right. I’m burrowing into my studies at the Strozzi Institute and gnawing on bits of wisdom that are subtly reshaping my world.

“We are what we practice, and we’re always practicing something,” says my teacher, Richard Strozzi-Heckler.

Could there be a more all-encompassing view of the word practice? Yet, what is the rat without its persistent digging and excavation, sniffing and sussing out? We know the rat from how it moves, what it does. Why should the same not be true of us larger mammals?

Sinking into the couch with my laptop and a good Netflix series queued …
Eating my oatmeal behind the wheel while navigating the morning rush hour …
Watching cargo ships make their way into the San Francisco Bay …
Opening a fresh page on my computer and wondering what may come forth …

My body knows these things. It’s done them over and over. They’re not good nor bad, they simply are. Like grooves in a well-worn record, the practicing of them through time shapes me. The question is, do I like the shape I’m rehearsing?

If we’re always practicing something, is what you’re practicing who you want to be? 

In the awareness of doing the familiar, there is a choice. Are these the moves we want to perfect, or is there something else, something truer to this moment of who we are?

Sometimes, yes, it is to stay the course. Enjoy the couch. And sometimes the doing continues simply because it is familiar. It is cozy. It is the snooze button.

We begin to miss ourselves. We’re creatives without time to create. Spiritual guides without space for stillness and reflection. Life urges us to choose the fast lane when our body is wanting slow and methodical. We sense things are off course and set deadlines for when we’ll get back on track. Then it will be a heave-ho to all the unhealthy patterns and a sparkling fresh beginning.

In this sense, “we are what we practice” is good news.

Rather than an overhaul, “practice” frees us to find moments to “true” ourselves inside of our very busy days.  The doing itself is the becoming. We are a writer, not because we’re published but because we find 5 minutes at the end of the day to write. We are a creative not because our Etsy shop is thriving but because we glittered up a card for a friend’s birthday. Identifying with the practice frees us from identifying with the outcomes. Practice is all the permission we need to do that thing.  We need not have graduate degrees in astrophysics to study the stars. Looking up the night sky with full-hearted curiosity night after night can shape anyone as an astronomer.

May your New Year be filled with industrious you-ness.


photo credit: Greg Rakozy


Kelsey Blackwell is a somatic coach, writer and facilitator committed to fearlessly creating spaces for women and PoC to trust and follow the wisdom of their own bodies so they may powerfully shine their lights in a world that sorely needs this brilliance. She is the author of the viral article, Why People of Color Need Spaces Without White People, and the guest editor of the special issue, The Necessity of Including Embodiment and Lineage in Racial Justice Work published by The Arrow: A Journal of Wakeful Society. She holds an MS in Magazine Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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2 responses to “ Being You is a Practice ”
  1. Thanks so much Kelsey—what a great meditation for starting the year of the Rat!

  2. I like your voice!

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