My writing ritual: tap the enter key on the far right of my keyboard, sit in the chair, spin the chair around and turn on the salt lamp, touch the crystal on the base of my monitor, light the candle, turn on the work lamp, put on the smart writing glasses, open the project, write.
Our morning ritual: roll over and open one eye to look at the dog, pull the phone from the nightstand and disconnect the charger, peek at the time, pull back the covers to shuffle to the washroom, return to bed, making space for the dog to snuggle in with us, form a set of three spoons for a bit more sleeping, play with the dog and throw his toys out of the room to fetch.
The coffee ritual (when it’s my turn): pad into the kitchen, open the cabinet with all the coffee things (grinder, beans, sugar for Bill), grind the coffee, dropping a couple of beans onto the floor (every damn day), empty and rinse the carafe, fill with water, prepare hot water with lemon to drink while coffee brews.
The coffee ritual (when it’s not my turn): Commence the writing ritual, then go find Bill and whine, “No one has made any coffee.” Wait for coffee to be made, poured and properly outfitted with whip cream in the exact right mug.
New Year’s ritual (prior to 2015): N/A – some years I chatted online with the Apple “geniuses” and others I watched a movie or attended a dinner where we paired fancy beers with delicious food. It was a mash-up.
New Year’s (2015 and after): celebrate the eve in whatever way feels right, but most likely with great food and some reflection. New Year’s Day, get up late, loiter in bathrobes and comfy things for awhile, then bundle up and head to the nearest body of water. Sit at the water’s edge and contemplate. Write with markers on rocks the things I am ready to release (resentment, guilt, obligation, relationships, etc.) and then, with ceremony and reverence, throw the rocks in the water. Choose new rocks that appeal—they are coming home with me, after all—write what I want for the coming year on them and hold them all, giving them the energy of the water and the love of my intentions. Sit with the water and bask in the sunlight if it’s there. Return home and journal and create goals, plans and dreams for the year that reflect the intentions of how I wish to feel.
Last year, after swimming in grief for so long, I had nothing left in me to sit with Apple “geniuses” online all night, or see friends, or even watch a movie, so I made other plans. I booked a small (micro!) cabin on the Sunshine Coast for a few nights. I wanted to get away in silence, write, eat some nourishing food, and get a fresh start. I hunkered in my first night with my laptop and flip charts and my meditation cushion and got to work. I rose on New Year’s Day and created the ritual I shared above. I didn’t know if it was going to work, or if I was destined to spend another year lost in loss, but I had to try.
As I let all of it go into the ocean, where I could come back to be with it all if I really wanted to, I started to feel some lightness. I was sharing my burden with the powerful waves that could carry it for me. I got to shift into thinking about what I wanted for myself: to feel cherished, in life and in my love-filled business; bravery; and freedom. Something told me I would get it all.
I moved into the new year facing things that would help me to feel brave (tackling the West Coast Trail again, hiking the Grand Canyon in one day, and falling hopelessly in love), to feel free (I didn’t say yes to anything that restricted me or my time, I chose freedom over what I thought I “should”) and as I chased after feeling cherished, I found a team to build my business with me with whom I felt like a beaming light. At every turn, I felt exactly like I wanted to.
As we approach the start of 2017 and it’s tempting to, once again, promise that you will lose weight, read more, quit drinking, or [insert your own usual suspects here], I invite you to notice your own routines and rituals. They don’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to be created, it can be simply noticed.
I am willing to bet that you follow the same routines as you go to bed each night: brushing your teeth, checking to see that the door is locked, peeking in at the kids to make sure they’re covered and sleeping soundly, shutting off lights, and removing your slippers before crawling between the sheets, right? Something like that?
And how about how you make coffee in the morning? Or get ready to leave the house?
Ritual is the much-more-mindful version of routine. And there is routine, or ritual, in nearly all that we do. Some things are just the way they are done—we remove the gas cap before we fill with gas, and open the carton of milk before we pour—but there can be mindfulness in the everyday.
And consider, instead of changing your behaviour, chasing a feeling this year, and you will create a life that feeds those feelings.
At the end of this year, I am counting the seconds until my New Year’s celebrations; Bill and I are escaping to a writing cabin in the woods, with amazing food we can prepare and enjoy, movies we can watch by the fire, books to read, our snowshoes and bundle-up stuff and, of course, the dog. I allowed healing and a little magic into my life this year, so there won’t be a lot for me to release into the nearest body of water, but there will be some fresh wishes to write on the rocks.
Won’t you join me?