Project Reverb prompt: “What small pleasures did you discover this year?”
Cooking while listening to a podcast. Listening to The Splendid Table with Lynne Rossetto Kasper while baking cookies, or Professor Blastoff while chopping kale for salad. I already knew the pure joy of listening to This American Life while balancing my checkbook and Creative Living with Jamie while folding and putting away the laundry, but this particular combination is new. The joy I’ve discovered in cooking, nourishing myself, both feeding and cherishing, is new.
Reading and taking naps. This isn’t a new discovery, but rather something I’ve rediscovered, started doing again.
Playing with Ringo. When he was still a baby baby, he needed watched and entertained constantly when he was awake and that could feel like a chore. He’s easier now, more relaxed, more content to just hang out, so when he gets rowdy and wants to play, I can find the fun in it again.
Cuddling with Sam. He didn’t used to really like it, and sometimes when he wanted to I was trying to sleep and his long legs and weight were just too much for me, but we’ve finally found our groove.
Hugging Eric in the kitchen. He spends a lot of time there, cooking or listening to the radio, reading or surfing the web on his phone. Leaned up against the counter he’s the perfect height for me to snuggle my head into his neck and rest there. If he’s been cooking, it’s extra warm and smells good too. It feels so normal and calm and peaceful.
Eating what I want. I haven’t truly done that in years — had exactly what I wanted, what I was craving, enjoyed it without shame or guilt, without having to punish myself afterwards.
Writing letters. Real, old fashioned, by hand on stationary letters.
Watching movies. I used to do this a lot, but somehow got out of the habit, and have started to again lately. Eric and I just watched The One I Love and it was so good, I’m still thinking about it days later.
Reverb14 prompt: “What tiny rituals: signal that your day is starting; help you ease into a creative project; give you closure from an intensive task; or mark other significant milestones in your day? What new rituals would you like to create in the new year?”
My rituals to start my day, every day, are half a cup of coffee, a short meditation, setting my intention for my writing practice with a prayer, doing my writing practice, and ending with what’s known in Buddhist traditions as a “dedication of merit” (essentially making an offering of any good you generated during your practice so that it might benefit others). If I do yoga, that practice has the same beginning, a setting of intention, and ending, a dedication of merit.
I’m very bound by routine. I enjoy it, am comforted by it. It’s what works for me. However, most of my routine isn’t necessarily ritual. Sure, every time I get ready to walk my dogs, I get ready in the same way — change clothes, put on my coat and shoes, get my sunglasses, or glasses and a headlamp if it’s dark out, gloves and a hat if it’s extra cold; make sure I have my phone, house keys, dog treats, and poop bags; put leashes on the dogs; lock the door behind us and go. But that’s routine, not ritual, at least the way I think about it.
The only other ritual I have is simply to pause. To hold still and quiet in a particular moment, to mind the gap, to rest for a moment before moving forward, to notice where I’ve been and contemplate where I’m going. Part of the pause might be a long walk with my dogs or a nap or meditation or some form of divination. Sometimes after a long, big project, my ritual is to give myself a few days off before starting the next thing, staying in my pajamas, reading or watching tv or napping, resting.
A new ritual I’d like to create is to celebrate my accomplishments. I have a bad habit of rushing right past them into the next thing, and I’d like to cultivate more of a sense of wonder, spend just a little time marveling at what I’ve done, really honor my hard work. I don’t know exactly what that would look like, but I want to try.
Another new ritual I’d like to try is more intentional and regular self-care. And I don’t mean the normal stuff like taking a shower or flossing my teeth. I mean the special stuff like getting a massage once a month, but also simple things like using my favorite lotion every day or lighting candles when I meditate — allowing myself to be pampered. to experience pleasure rather than waiting until things are necessary and rushing through them like a chore.