1. 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?
2. Small Pleasures: What small pleasures did you discover this year?
Ritual becomes even more important in the aging process -- the little things, the order in which you accomplish routine tasks, the way you structure your day. You can call it routines or daily chores or whatever you want, but it takes the form of ritual.
Wikipedia says "A ritual 'is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a sequestered place, and performed according to set sequence.'"
Disrupt our rituals, and it can discombobulate everything. I understand that much better nowadays, although we are still young enough not to go off into anxiety attacks about it. But it used to happen frequently with my mother in her later years, and I didn't quite get it then.
Our beautiful mornings nearly always begin with Tony rising before I do.. He has his own morning rituals. When I get up, I open the blinds in bedroom and living room on the way to the kitchen where I put hot water into a mug along with an Irish Breakfast teabag (occasionally varying that with a cup of decaf coffee or a decaf Earl Grey), and then sit in my big green leather chair with my iPad and tea for 20-30 minutes, usually with McMurphy in my lap, loving on me. Tony fixes breakfast -- eggs or cereal or oatmeal -- and we do our daily readings from two books we choose every year. And then the day begins to vary, depending on who's doing what.
I love that routine, that ritual. We do much the same when we travel in Sallie, our travel trailer. It is a buffer for me between the warmth of the bed and a dream world, and the necessities of the day. Once we close the books on the last reading, I'm ready to face the rest of the day.
I would like to create a ritual around exercising in the new year, an almost automatic action of climbing on the bike and pedaling for half an hour. I don't do that consistently and I neeeeeeeed it. I also want my Tuesday and Thursday mornings to include yoga class again, where I get up from the breakfast table, shower and change into yoga clothing, and head out. I always feel so much better -- and so totally virtuous -- when I intentionally do something that helps my strength and stamina.
I have always loved ritual, whether in the form of family tradition or more formal church ritual, and have written several to observe seasonal change, leavings and arrivings, and to celebrate friendships. I think even our little every day rituals bring some comfort and continuity to our lives and help us celebrate those moments.
2. Funny little prompt here -- small pleasures.
One of the first that instantly came to mind is my little Pampered Chef microwave pots. I bought these during an RV show early in the year, but the first time I used them, in June, I loved them! They are covered saucepans that will easily hold and heat soup or casseroles, and for an RV trip, they are perfect -- lighter weight than Pyrex and more easily gripped. It was a silly little glow of pleasure, but I am so glad I have them.
Another little pleasure I discovered this year is the Kindle Paperwhite, the backlit e-reader. It goes easily into a purse, holds a charge for a long time, and I can read in the dark without disturbing my honey or anyone else. Although I still and always love the feel of a paper book, I have become a big fan of the Kindle, especially when paired with Kindle Unlimited -- another little pleasure of this year -- because I don't have to keep the book or store them -- and I have shelves and shelves of books. That's growing more important to me as I try to recycle or give away things that no longer suit me, and that includes some of my extensive library.
While I found it several years ago now, the Thermos Hydration bottle is without a doubt the BEST water bottle ever. It stays cold, even icy, in temperatures exceeding 105, and doesn't sweat. We use them constantly and they always go with us when we are in the car. Every time I flip it open, I am grateful for this little treasure and the cold drink it offers. A small pleasure is sometimes the very best kind.