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Ritual

I have been thinking about the word RITUAL a lot lately, especially in contrast to habit. I have many habits. Here are my dailies: One – Work out every morning Monday – Friday. Two – Walk Juniper every morning and most afternoons. Add an evening walk for most of summer-like weather. Three – Sauna upon return from first walk. Four – two lattes, very, very hot lattes. Homemade cashew or almond milk.

After coffee, I am literally all over the place. Some days, I eat right away, others no. Some days, I bathe; some days, I blog; some days, I read; some days, I watch a show (or a hundred). Some days, I eat very healthy, others definitely not. I should also add that since Weight Watchers, I weigh myself every Monday morning. I want to be within my healthy range. Before WW, my doctor told me I was five pounds from overweight for my size, which was not fun to hear. I consider myself to be maintaining if I am within two pounds of goal. It creeped up to five last Monday because, surprise (!), my eating habits are wildly unpredictable. I am inconsistent on the vegetable intake, love sweets and Cheeto-type snacks, and pizza, oh and not counting every calorie every day. It gets tedious.

So last week, as Greg is in a similar boat (go figure, since we share most meals!), we went back to counting calories (via Cronometer – which is awesome and I’m not being paid to say so!) and am down 2.2 pounds. I think this will be the way of it from here on out. Habitually weigh in on Monday, maintain the exercise schedule, sort of watch the weight until it gets to five pounds, then restrict. It feels reasonable. Doable.

Now for the ritual part. I have, for many years, craved ritual in a BIG way. I feel the empty space where it ought to be. As yet, I have not found anything that resonates. My Dad has read the bible every day of my life. I have tried. Greg has tried with me. It is simply not for us. I do not like the message or the language, especially how it is filled with negativity. A lot of people meditate, but again, I try (a couple times a week, at least) and find my mind wanders far too often about every. little. thing. I know letting go of this is the point, but it’s been years, and I clearly need something different. For me, I believe it needs to be an ACT. A movement, a drawing, a watching, a reading?

In Pittsburgh, we tried a “Not Church” group of secular humanists. It sounded so good on paper! Fun people gathering in community to further knowledge about themselves and the known universe! But, but, but, all they talked about was church and Christianity and how this was not that. What?! At least we tried.

So, HI! This is me searching for that Goldilocks THING. My mind remains open to possibilities.

Do you know about kintsuge? Also known as Golden Joinery, it is the practice of fixing damaged pottery by adding gold to the repair. This enhances the broken bits and becomes part of the history of the object. I have known about it for a while but never had occasion to put it to use.

My Mom bought me this tray for Christmas. A New Mexico license plate?! So cool. It sits, with pride of place on our kitchen counter, a nice spot for fruit. I clumsily dropped an ice pack on it, and it snapped in two. Instead of searching for another or tossing it, I immediately thought of kintsuge and bought a kit. My repair, being my first, is FAR from expert or even terribly pretty, but I like it! Which, I believe, speaks loudest to the purpose of the practice.

Our broken bits can be made whole again, beautiful and useful, too! We need only believe them to be and willingly make the effort.

Of course, this got me thinking about how I have the opportunity to make my life this way, too. I used to feel a lot of shame around patterns I allowed to repeat over and over. Women came into my life, and I put aside my needs and feelings to make them feel loved and appreciated. That I was a friend they could count on. I’d drop anything for them. Give anything to them. Keep quiet about their negativity, insults, and slights.

I didn’t see it as me being a doormat. Until. I felt the first cracks in my being and knew I could do something about them. I stood up to them. The ways were mostly small, the glue filling the tiniest of fissures. A flimsy, yet valiant, first effort. Definitely no gold.

I experienced the seams holding and was emboldened. More and more, I uttered yes to me and no to them. I also started seeing the behavior more quickly in new relationships and ended them the moment I felt a fracture, even the tiniest of one. It leaves me with very few close friends, but I don’t see it as a negative. I am sprinkling gold about and enjoying the shimmer, the promise of all the history, of all that I was and now am. It is far from perfect but pretty grand.

We watched Sound of Metal recently, the only, I think, Oscar nominee we managed this year. It’s funny how I used to be so into it, seeing the movies, watching the red carpet, the ceremony, so interested and invested in it all. The clothes, the speeches, the wonder! A season of my life now complete, I suppose.

The film, however, got to me, deeply. How for a long while, a body moves along, believing it is one person, doing life in one certain way, contentedly so. Suddenly a change comes, wholly unexpected and painfully blunt. In the main character’s case, a loss of hearing. How does a drummer go on when he can no longer hear the notes? How does a body get out of the head space of necessity? Of Disability?

The most intriguing moment of the story happens when he’s told his grief is not about hearing loss. The problem is not deafness. The problem is making peace with deafness. The problem is the mind.

How true this is. How true that our minds are often our greatest road blocks. Stories we are told. Stories we create. Dysfunctional patterns and beliefs run riot, ruling us like bullies, toddlers in need of rest. How bankrupt and desperate. Sometimes ugly, too.

How potent the moment when we witness this ugliness from a distance, truly recognize it. Embrace it with love. Then let it go. What sweet freedom. What peace.

May we all arrive there.

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Hello from nanuck and his cowboy hat girlfriend! Greg’s words, not mine, but chuckle worthy and true, especially when you look at his shadow on the street. Very eskimo and cowboy.

Thankfully, we are still enjoying all of our dining in (Greg says it’s the best restaurant in town), the top photo the best pork chop of my life and the steak at the bottom topped with a Korean BBQ style sauce of wonder. I’ve been brining, smoking, then pan finishing just about all our meats lately, and what delicious magic it has been. Everything cooked to absolute perfection.

I found a no-knead bread recipe from King Arthur flour, which was crusty good and enjoyed over two days, and this week’s Sunday dessert was cake made with freeze dried strawberries, the frosting, too, utterly cheery and delicious! My ever-sensitive system found it all a bit much, sadly, so I am going to dial back the grains to one day a week. Too much information, I know.

We braved the world in the car on Saturday, the first time in 16 days, off to Target and Safeway (we have vegetables and greens again!), and felt positively weird to be shopping with such heightened awareness. I made a bottle of hand sanitizer with alcohol, water, a little avocado oil, and essential oils, and sprayed every cart surface liberally, and our hands, too. One small measure of control in our very unsettling times. So far, so good.

It was also nice enough to get work done in the garden and chat with neighbors as they walked or bicycled by. Everything is greening up, and the tulips should be beginning their show soon. How I am looking forward to that!

Palmer Park

Views from a couple Palmer Park walks. We’ve lived here for nearly four years, and I have only become more enamored with the park and our close proximity to it. I do a lot of counting of my lucky stars, I tell you!

And yesterday’s bedroom view. The windows were open wide to the 70 degree day! We sipped cool drinks in the sun and watered trees with snow melt. Juniper romped and rolled herself into filth. Luckily it was bath day, so she is silky and shining again. Good girl.

And now, in perfect winter fashion, it is 40 degrees cooler, and snow is falling. I love this place!

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