Recently I’ve been thinking about rituals, the things we do for ourselves that help us keep moving, help us through. I suppose it’s close to self-care, but self-care has been hijacked to be synonymous with spending money on oneself. You don’t have to spend money to take care of yourself, though a haircut or manicure or massage do feel wonderful.
Anyway, about a month ago I started a new ritual without even realizing it. Weekend mornings I like to sleep in – it’s a plus of not having children and following pandemic restrictions and literally having nowhere to go. Sleeping in isn’t the ritual, it’s what I do when I wake up. After I’ve gotten out of bed and have fed the cats and brought the dog outside, I pour myself a cup of coffee. And then I take that coffee back to bed with me. I’ll grab my laptop from my office on the way, and spend an hour (sometimes two) in bed with coffee and weekend internet reading or a book. M will still be sleeping and the dog and at least one cat will get back in bed with me. Coffee in bed. A small but important ritual that prepares me for the coming week.
I work from home, and am grateful for the job and the flexibility. But it’s hard. The days are long and there’s always a day or two where I’m in meetings for 6 or 7 hours. It’s a lot on top of all of the other adjustments we’ve had to make in the last year. Preparing for the week has become more important than ever. Today I used my coffee in bed time to write this, and to decide what I’ll make this week that will create at least two dinners for us. (I’m giving this a shot). I’ve also realized that I have an end of week ritual too.
Friday. It’s what I look forward to and a way to mark time in a time when it is so amorphous. On Friday’s I get up and get to work. Mid day I take a break to go to physical therapy. This is where the ritual comes in, the way I end each work week. I treat myself to a latte from Starbucks on the way home from PT to help me finish up the work day and week. Then it is officially the start of the weekend. I put a bottle of wine in the fridge. We get takeout. There is no thinking about dinner other than where we’ll order from. We try to stay local and support our small businesses when we can. We eat together and then we get ready for our D&D game with friends over Zoom. The game (my first campaign) is fun all on it’s own. I’m learning how to play pretend at 38. But playing with these people, these folks I love wholeheartedly, is what keeps me (most of the time) from feeling desperate to connect while staying socially isolated. I have built deep friendships with new people over Friday night Zoom D&D. If you look for silver linings in pandemic life, this is it. D&D lets us escape to a different place, being different people (and animals), and seeing friends the safest way we can.
My rituals help me begin and end the work week. Humans crave patterns and routine and predictability. These rituals, these things I count on, help me feel grounded when much of the time I feel like I’m flailing, when everything is so hard. I’ve had coffee in bed this morning which helps me do the necessary things like laundry and cleaning the kitchen and maybe finally finishing this great book that is over 600 pages and I just need a chunk of time to sit and read. I feel prepared, as much as I can, for the coming week.