Seeing as it's New Years Eve (and, if you listen to the Mayans, the last one), I think it's appropriate to talk about rituals. I really love rituals. I'm not talking about virgin-sacrificing rituals or rituals like the changing of the guard, I'm talking about personal rituals. I happen to think that having individualized personal rituals is really fulfilling and worthwhile and important.
Rituals are similar to joy-triggers, but, as I see it, they're not the same. Joy-triggers are things that go in my gratitude journal - little things that make me happy. Rituals are things I do because I like the continuity in my life. I like having little things that are always the same, that I am in control of. I'm a big fan of control. And, I like the place they put me in mentally. They serve as grounding forces so I can put away whatever it is I need to put away and move on and focus on what's in front of me.
The ten minute drive to school is some sort of ritual. Since my parents took my car away, that ten minute drive has been the thing I missed most; I never knew how important it was. Having a little bit of time to be all by myself and just let my mind graze as NPR plays in the background is exactly what I need to handle a day. I think it serves as a kind of meditation. Sure, maybe actually meditating would be better, but I love my drives as an alternative. It helps me have some sense of tranquility and inner-calmness.
Perhaps my most uncompromising ritual is blessing the food. No, I am not that crazy girl who prays at restaurants. But I've been blessing dinner my entire life. It's what we do in my family. It's gotten to the point where I have a really hard time eating dinner at home, mine or someone else's, without praying. It's a ritual. And even though it's rather ironic, and a little embarrassing (I have more than once insisted on praying at someone else's house), I love it. I love taking a moment to feel grateful for the food that I am incredibly fortunate to have. I like that it's not just a "dinner is on the table everyone devour it now because we all eat like teenage boys" thing, that there's a pause to be grateful and come together. I think that a moment to focus brings unity to meals. I really love blessing the food.
Another teeny tiny ritual is burning candles. I have three candles on my nightstand and when I come home from school, the first thing I do when I go in my room is light my candle. Then I change and open up my backpack and watch Colbert Report and start on the homework. But I like having a few moments to light the candles and take a little break from the world. To do something just because it makes my environment a little nicer and a little more peaceful.
My favorite part of my morning ritual is listening to my morning playlist the consists mostly of the Grateful Dead, Fleetwood Mac and U2. It makes getting out of bed and getting going that much more fun, and I love the tone it sets for my day. It helps me have a good outlook for the Stats test I won't pass or the disgrace of a Hamlet paper I turned in. Things will be okay because Bono and Jerry Garcia say so.
Well the first days are the hardest days, don't you worry any more,
'Cause when life looks like easy street, there is danger at your door.
Think this through with me, let me know your mind.
Woh - oh, what I want to know, is are you kind?
The other really wonderful part of my morning ritual is putting on mascara. The rest of my makeup I do as quickly as possible, sometimes I just skip it. But I always take my time with mascara. My Diorshow Blackout mascara is one of my favorite things on this planet. It's the queen of all mascaras. I love taking a few extra minutes and taking slow sweeping mascara strokes, making sure each lash is tinted and there aren't any stickies.
Bed time ritual is also really lovely. I read 10 pages or so in whatever book I happen to be reading, even if it's homework reading. Then I turn on some music (lately it's the Robert Plant & Alison Krauss album), but I turn the volume down and I write in my journal. I write with Pilot G2 pens, which happen to be my very favorite (I have a whole Godiva chocolate tin full of them), and I write it all down. I can't go to sleep without writing. Somedays I lay everything out on the page, some days I just put a quote in my quote journal, and somedays it's five things I'm grateful for that day. Whatever it is, I need to put words in my journal in order to feel like the day has passed and I can move on to the next one, whatever it happens to hold.
I even like Sunday morning ritual. I like getting out of bed with lots of time to get ready, so I can shave my legs and deep condition my hair and take extra long to put on my mascara. I like dressing up. I like wearing my Joan and David heels and my Urban Outfitters pencil skirt or my Tracy Reese dress. I like that I have one day a week when I get myself all dolled up.
My very favorite ritual is cleansing. I run the warm water just a little, so it's a thin steady stream, and wash the day off my face. Lately, my favorite face wash is the Philosophy "purity made simple" cleanser that I got for Christmas. Sometimes, I use Cetaphil, and the smell takes me back to my summer in Europe, because I took one very large container of Cetaphil and with that humidity, I was using it like six times a day. Whatever it is, I love massaging the cleanser into my skin and I love the smell and I love rinsing it away with warm water. I love patting my face dry and enjoying the moment when my skin is entirely clean. It's like no matter what mess I am dealing with in the rest of my life, I have that one moment of purity a day.