Monday, January 23, 2012

Embracing Winter: Start a New Ritual

When winter seems long, the days gray and depressing, and your spirits begin to flag, why not start a new ritual? Some of you may feel scared at the sound of that word -- what does she mean? Really, "ritual" is just a romanticized trade-in for habit or tradition.

It was Alexandra Stoddard who first introduced me to the idea of personal rituals. I wish I could remember which of her books it was in..... Anyway, the kind of ritual I am speaking about is something that you begin to do and as the days go on becomes a habit, something you do automatically. It is something that brings you joy.

Perhaps you have a morning coffee "ritual." Why not make it more special: set out your cup the night before, on a little tray. Add a printed napkin, or if you have a flower to spare, a flower in a vase. Maybe a square of chocolate, or slip a little quote penned on a scrap of paper -- turn morning coffee into something that refreshes you even more than usual.

A ritual may begin as a reward for something you find difficult to do. If you have the money, make a habit of buying flowers for your house while you are doing the weekly shopping. Spend a moment arranging them and setting them where they will make you happy.

Maybe you hate to clean -- take a moment to sit and paint your nails when you are done.

I often find it hard to go down to the kitchen and begin working on dinner when it is dark and cold. A ritual helps me. I light a candle on the counter, pick out a CD, and start my work. Candle light and music help to motivate me.

Start a ritual baking day: if your schedule allows, choose a day of the week on which you will attempt to bake something. Think how your family or friends might start to look forward to this!

Choose a seat in the house to make "yours". Keep a magazine by it, or a candle, or pen and paper for writing or drawing. Make a ritual of sitting there once a day just to relax and think.

Start a journal, or continue on with one you already have. Write in it at the same time each day.

Start a beauty routine: a hot bath once a week, or buy a new jar of hand lotion to rub on your hands faithfully. Place delicious smelling chapstick at your desk and put some on each time you sit down. Eat by candlelight. Write a letter once a week -- make a letter station where everything is at your fingertips.

The possibilities are endless.....we have only to break out of our rut and try a new little path.


Mrs. Yellow Ribbon said...

Hey, Heather,

I love the idea of making my morning coffee an experience (because goodness knows it's already a ritual). I enjoy it so much more when I can sit down and sip slowly. Pouring a to-go cup on my way out the door seems , more often than not, what I resort to.

Brittany Miller
(Debra's friend :-)

Ruth MacC said...

Ah Heather, I love every one of your ideas. Thank you!

Q said...

Thank you for the reminder, I'm off to pull out my A.S. books to remember a little better . . . but only after preparing the perfect cup of coffee to enjoy with it!

Catherine Love said...

I remember reading about personal rituals ... was it in Living a Beautiful Life?
These are lovely ideas you shared. One of my personal daily rituals is a morning cup of tea, a few notes in the journal, and a time of quiet contemplation. Perfect way to start the day :) .