Third Month Rituals

Here we are again; a ritual return. Back when this became a wellness blog I called each of these end-of-the-month posts my Work Release. The idea was to show the work which goes into wellness as a practice to reinforce that wellness is indeed a practice and it is indeed work. To support my 2020 theme of Ritual, I’ve elected to describe these posts as Rituals themselves, in addition to being filled with rituals which support wellness. Welcome to a highlight reel of March’s rituals, shared here to inspire, encourage, and sometimes enlighten as a wellness enthusiast.

Environmental Wellness

Back in January I decided to would make a strong effort to stop using single-use or disposable drink containers. How long could I go without purchasing any drink sold in a plastic bottle or cup (including the paperboard coffee cups)? Not even from a drive-thru window; not even a free bottle of water. So far I can go three months. A successful experiment becomes a ritual.

It helps that there are currently no events and I haven’t driven through a drive-thru in the same amount of time. I make coffee at home or work. I carry a reusable water bottle. I don’t drink soda. It’s not hard, folks.

I continued the usual rituals of composting and recycling. New this month is the decision to dig up more of my back yard to grow more of my own food. I’ve already got a burgeoning herb garden growing just steps from my back porch. Herbs are easy and low-maintenance. I’m ready to try some vegetables. I’ve made it as far as plotting the plots. More to come on this when it stops raining longer than 20 minutes at a time.

Physical Wellness

The elephant in the room is invited to leave the room. There will be no discussion of COVID-19 in this post. You already know where to get than information. Here in Mercyburg we have daily press conferences. Daily. I suspect it is the same where you live, so it is all covered well enough.

Physical Wellness work continued as usual in March, with the rituals of running, hiking, cycling, tennis, and yoga displacing the temptations of panic, obsessive preoccupation, and hoarding. Stress damages the immune system, folks.

When you get down to the Financial Wellness section you may wonder how/why I’m keeping up all these rituals with cardiac questions in question. I have my doctors’ blessings to continue all regular activities. Many test are complete while others are still pending. Until results dictate otherwise I am medically cleared to continue business rituals as usual.

The ritual of Veganism continues. Nothing new to report this month but it bears a continuing mention as a component of physical wellness work. The aforementioned tests included blood work. After two years as a vegan all aspects of my blood work are normal and healthy. All of them; everything. Proof I’m getting all the protein and nutrients needed without eating animals or their secretions. I’m thoroughly enjoying the ritual of satisfaction.

With all league tennis matches and road cancelled indefinitely I had plenty of time for solo rituals this month. There is no award for refusing to cower in front of a screen validating fear and feeding conspiracy theories, but there are these:

What are the points, you ask? (You didn’t.) They are just for fun. Levels of fun.

Emotional Wellness

Not all wellness work is fun. Some of it is categorically un-fun. Relationships with those who are unwell, for one. Cutting to the chase here.

When friends or family respond to crises by sending out group communications that are inflammatory, there is only so long one can ignore them. If emotional health is being threatened or compromised by continued exposure and silence doesn’t make it stop, wellness work becomes the courage to intervene on your own behalf. I like to think that lack of response is a hint that unsolicited messages of this type are unwelcome or unwanted. When folks don’t take the hint, then what? Even worse, if folks consider the continued campaigning of their position(s) to be their responsibility, then what?

March brought this issue to brink of critical action. I could deal with the low simmer of previous months but March brought on the hard boil. Let me go ahead and save you the time if you haven’t figured this out already — arguing or debate only makes it worse, even if it is peaceful. It simply prompts people to search for ways to justify or bolster their views and keep a constant dialogue going. If silence or a refusal to engage also isn’t working and emotional harm is taking place, we have to be our own advocates.

As nicely as possible I had to ask loved ones to stop sending me inflammatory material. No more, please. With respect, I prefer no more of this sent to me. The current climate has unfortunately fanned the passions/convictions of people to fanatic levels. Folks believe that because they care about me they MUST convince me, educated me, or expose me to certain information. Their consciences won’t allow them to simply stop, even if I ask. If I am taking on emotional damage as a result I have to remove myself from the harmful situation.

Unsubscribe. Mute. Block. And this sucks. And it can be argued that the loss of certain relationships is also emotionally damaging and harmful, but sometimes it is the only way to stop certain kinds of abuse. I wish logic and reason were more effective. I wish love was enough. In March I had to grapple with the reality that against fanaticism and zealotry, these are not enough. I don’t have the tools to create safety for myself in relation to extremism, so the kindest thing I can do for myself is remove myself from harm’s way.

Financial/Occupational Wellness

I began the month with the intention of continuing the ritual of Zero Surplus. My plans changed quickly. Four years ago I renamed this blog The Renaissance Heart after some cardiac issues surfaced. Things have been mostly quiet on that topic until now. Same issues as before, only more of them, so I’m repeating tests and paying out extra co-pays. All of these extra doctor visits and follow up appointments naturally generate additional expenses with extra travel and lost work hours. So of course there is less surplus.

Even so, with so much uncertainty afoot, the only thing I am hoarding is money. I can’t pay the mortgage with toilet paper. Or guns. Or a new car at 0% interest and no payments for however many months. Please, friends. Don’t be suckered in by hucksters offering you great deals right now. Financially speaking, things are not going back to “normal” in a few weeks. I cannot say it enough — any new debt is a bad move in the current market. They may say you’d be a fool not to take advantage of unprecedented terms. Don’t do it. In a few weeks our global health crisis will be replaced with a global economic crisis. Don’t compromise your ability to survive it. Think of it as financial hand-washing and keep saying No.

Intellectual Wellness/Creativity

Within the next few days I’ll be sent home to work remotely. The largest chunk of creativity was directed toward converting my yoga space into a work space to help make the transition as seamless as possible and purchasing as little as possible. I took fewer photos this month and wrote fewer blog posts. I’ve decided to generate no reasons or excuses, as if more is preferable and less must be explained. The ebb and flow of creativity and motivation shall be allowed to follow its natural course without the burden of criticism.

I did rekindle my interest in heart-related knowledge, for obvious reasons. I brushed up on all the things most folks don’t know about heart health until they have to know it. I admit this is in part to counter the ignorance of those who look aghast and make idiotic comments because they think heart problems only happen to people with a certain type of appearance. If I don’t look they way they think a heart patient looks, it is apparently inconceivable that I could have a heart problem. It is also unthinkable to those with igno-sumptions that physically active folks can also be heart patients. (Sigh.) Sometimes it is far less tiresome just to keep it to myself.

Yes, igno-sumptions is a word I just made up. Ignorant + assumptions. In reference to the ignor-assers. Ignorant + assumers. Making up my own words is another long-time ritual. Sometimes even the scariest of challenges yield opportunities to be more creative.

Books read: Once Night Falls by Roland Merullo.

No documentaries this month.

Spiritual Wellness

I am trying so hard to hold my tongue and practice compassion with people working their religious angles on the current global crisis. This has been my toughest work this month (and probably qualifies as social wellness too). One woman told me our current events are a punishment from God. She insisted God is fed up with us and we are suffering the consequences of disappointing/frustrating God. Another fellow told me that if we would simply humble ourselves before God then God would heal our crisis. He insisted we must beg for repentance or continue to be destroyed. By God.

This shit enrages me. I don’t handle it well. I lose my f-ing mind when people try this shit on me. With the woman I took a deep breath and let it out slowly and then miraculously, the nurse called me back to see the doctor. Rescue! With the man, I ordered him out of my sight. He quoted a Bible verse about his loving God promising to grant mercy in exchange for humility and repentance. I spat back that withholding relief until someone begs for mercy and forgiveness is not an act of love. It is part of an abuse cycle. As you can imagine, the exchange went nowhere good from there.

When I do manage to calm my lividity (made-up word for the state of being livid), this makes me sad. Worse than sad; bereaved. For them. For those teaching this to them. For those who will learn it from them. For me. For the way I let this get under my skin. For the fact that people think we can pray this away instead of educating ourselves and taking responsibility for our responsive actions. For the blase way people prefer to blame a deity when the work gets too hard and then pretend to be helpless in the wake of said deity’s will (which allegedly cannot be understood).

As for my own spiritual wellness, I’m working on being less reactionary to all of this while practicing every sane and rational way I know to enable comfort and solace for myself and those I love. I counsel myself that the years of emotional trauma I endured from fundamentalist religion means I have triggers which may never go away. Statements like those are triggers and I get to choose how I react. I am meditating. I am chanting peaceful words. I am trying not to engage and trying like hell not think retaliatory thoughts. And it is hard. And I fail as much as I succeed, which means I keep practicing.

Social Wellness

See my post from March 22nd for the most notable work in Social Wellness.

Other than that I’m doing what we are all doing; checking on people and offering to share what I have. Being patient with folks in service whose services are hindered by delays and complications they cannot control. Paying people the money I would have spent on their services had they not been shut down. Doing my best not to lose my shit when people are stupid, irresponsible, cruel, or greedy. I’d prefer these trying times to bring out the best in me but I admit it is often a blessing to be isolated from those in whom we’ve brought out the worst.

You don’t need another laundry list of ways to help your neighbors typed out here just so I can congratulate myself on doing my part. The ‘net is swilling with plenty of that. You are smart people. You know how to take care of each other. Remember to take care of yourself too. We are all going to handle some things badly and some things brilliantly. Be patient with each other and patient with yourself. I’ll see you back here next month.

— Mercy

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