Fifth Month Rituals

Here we are again; a ritual return. Ritual highlights are ready to reel. 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. Wellness is indeed a practice and it is indeed work.

To support my 2020 theme of Ritual, I have elected to describe and observe these monthly posts as Rituals themselves, in addition to being filled with rituals which support wellness. Welcome to a highlight reel of May’s rituals, shared here to inspire, encourage, and sometimes enlighten as a wellness enthusiast.

I’ve been calling the first photo of each post the calendar page. Each month the calendar page follows a similar format. I deviated from that format in May, as you can see. No reason; just a different stroke of creativity this month. It was a sunrise run down a dark lane and I liked the glowy light/dark contrast through the thicket, so I set up an action-shot self-portrait. So we will start with …

Intellectual Wellness & Creativity

Creativity rituals were mostly writing and making visual images. No changes there. With the exception of the Garmin badges all of these photos are my creative work. If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw Peaco back in action, which is a revival ritual. One fine day I started playing with symbology; a ritual experiment and a surprisingly soothing one. I wrote only three other blog posts this month but Wearing the Veil on the 16th was a doozy.

Books read: Light Is The New Black, by Rebecca Campbell. This was a re-read. In the way religious people never stop reading the Bible/Torah/Qu’ran, I’m never really done with this one. The same is true of Rise Sister Rise by the same author.

Documentaries: History 101 (Netflix), The Gut Movie (Gaia) and Good, Better, Vegan (Gaia). Not all documentaries about veganism are pro-vegan. Some are anti-vegan. I watch those too.

The photo is my work, the artwork on the box is not.

Financial/Occupational Wellness

The hospital bill for my cardiac procedure arrived the same week as my stimulus check from the government. The money didn’t sit in my bank account long enough to bear interest before I sent it away almost dollar for dollar to pay off the cardiac cath lab. The only part of the economy I stimulated was the part needing no stimulation.

Nonetheless I’m grateful to be a heart patient whose annual deductible has now been met for the year. And since deductibles are bullshit, at least I got to choose which kind of bullshit my taxes were spent upon for once. (Y’all know that wasn’t free money, right? Sigh.) But sarcasm aside, I’m grateful some of my own money was returned to me just in time to give it away, leaving my current earnings intact. It was probably some of your money too, for which I am also grateful. Let’s use that gratitude as a springboard.

Physical Wellness

For the month of May I opted to switch from complaining to gratitude. In terms of wellness it is the only practical response with a decent shelf-life. Hence the ritual of the pink flower this month, which symbolizes gratitude. I wore it for all my runs, walks, hikes, and post-run Eagle Poses (see below). Sometimes I choose the flower. Sometimes the flower chooses me.

It took some convincing by way of diagrams with measurements showing just how far apart tennis players stand from each other, but we finally managed to get the public tennis courts reopened this month. Outdoor, open-air courts, of course. Restrooms still closed, of course. League play still suspended, of course. But at least I can stand on the other side of the taxpayers’ net without breaking a law. Tennis in public is no longer a crime.

Calm down. We worked out a system in which you only touch your own balls. (hee hee). Safer that way; only handling your own balls. (hee hee). For group lessons we still don’t touch the balls at all. (snort, chortle). Seriously though, I can go down to the court alone and work on my serve again without a police officer shooing me away. I am grateful that compared to hardships others have endured, this is the extent of my problems.

I’m grateful I have practices which can be modified. I am grateful to be well. I’m grateful I was already vegan. I’m grateful I am adjusting to the heart medication. I’m grateful to make peace with the truth that my beloved heart will never get better than it is now but I can still do plenty with it. I’m grateful every time I swallow one of those pills that my out of pocket cost is relatively low. I’m grateful to be able give my beloved body whatever she needs, including rest. I’m grateful for the ways we make the work fun.

Environmental Wellness

Last month I was so proud of my new food garden that I forgot to mention progress on my New Year’s goal of no disposable drink containers. At five months I have still not purchased or accepted a beverage in single-use plastic. No bottled water. No juice, soda, or take-out cups with lids and straws. Yes, isolation and little-to-no restaurant patronage helps, but success is success whether it comes easy or hard. It’s okay to let some things be easy.

My food garden grows but rain is overabundant, if such a thing can be said of rain. So watering is super easy as well these days.

Spiritual Wellness

The aforementioned symbology. All of these symbols mean the same thing. The interesting part is less that I said the same thing over and over, but more that I said it in so many different ways. And all of them are right.

I wanted to show that work was done in this category; that rituals were indeed observed, even if it feels better to keep the deeper insights private. But it does bear pointing out that Spiritual Wellness doesn’t look like only one thing, any more than Physical Wellness looks like only running or only yoga. A robust practice is a diverse practice. If there a multitude of ways to express one belief then there are just as many ways to experience the belief, and if the result is wellness, then all of them are right.

Emotional Wellness

Remember the Tennis Therapy I started back in March? This ritual continues but it has expanded to include more than tennis. If you forgot, this was a three-month course designed to improve the mental aspect of my tennis game. Self-defeating thoughts/behaviors and whatnot. Losing on the court isn’t always the result of playing the ball poorly. The first opponent is the mind, generating thoughts we turn into feelings. This work proved to be relevant to more of life than tennis, as I predicted it would.

And it is messy shit. Uncomfortable. Inconvenient. And in many instances, recycled work I thought I’d finished years ago. I would have told you — sworn, even — I’ve already settled some of those issues, and then a rogue incriminating statement will come sliding forward to betray my glib satisfaction and prove me wrong. And I hate it, of course, because there is some work I just don’t want to do anymore. And I fume that if working on something for 20 to 30 goddamn years isn’t enough to make me whole and well then perhaps there are some wounds that can never be truly healed and can only be managed.

If this is true then that’s why the work can never feel done. And why periods of successful management only last as long as we are willing to continue managing it. And this, for the thousandth time, Mercy, is why we call it a practice. Demanding finality makes about as much sense as insisting that once I win a tennis match I’ve obviously learned how to do it, so I should never lose another one — ever. Or never park crooked. Or never forget something or lose my temper. Mm-hmm. This is why I call it Tennis Therapy.

Social Wellness

  • The scene: street corner in Mercyburg, early morning, deserted excepted for characters named.
  • Characters: Mercy, Yard Man Weedeater, Yard Man Leafblower, Yard Man Garbagepicker.

Mercy approaches corner, running at a moderate pace, wearing a running skirt and tank top. Yard Men are working the lawn near the corner. Yard Man Weedeater notices Mercy’s approach and calls out to remaining Yard Men. All three stop working and watch Mercy. All three begin catcalling Mercy. All three begin catcall-screaming at Mercy. Seriously; they were screaming. Not hooting, not calling, not heckling, not yelling. SCREAMING.

Mercy considers changing directions. Mercy considering altering course. Mercy considers pulling out her cell phone and making a video recording of the encounter. Mercy weighs the implication of letting the Yard Men see her compromise her planned route because of their behavior. She eyeballs the traffic cameras overhead. She decides against all three considerations and charges forward to the corner.

The sidewalk is a gauntlet with Weedeater and Leafblower on her left, Garbagepicker on her right. The Yard Men watch her progress, pause their machines, and continue screaming at her. Mercy dons a defiant expression as she nears the closest of the three men, Garbagepicker. He is filling his lungs to scream anew just as her pace brings her parallel, with only a few feet between them. Mercy scowls, clenches both fists, bears down, and farts as hard and loudly as she can. Yard Man Garbagepicker’s imminent scream is arrested in his garbagepickin’ chest.

Mercy passes Yard Man Leafblower and Yard Man Weedeater in quick succession as they stand silent, stunned, and likely smelling her wake. Mercy clears the corner, makes her next turn, and continues her route, never looking back.

See you next month, friends. Be well.

— Mercy

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