Sixth 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. 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 June’s rituals, shared here to inspire, encourage, and sometimes enlighten as a wellness enthusiast.

Intellectual Wellness & Creativity

I didn’t write much in June; only two posts. Photography creations were way down as well. I’m chalking this up to the ritual of rest. Focus on too many things at once and it’s hard to give a quality effort to all of them. But the few photos posted here are lovely and enough. I did bang out a testimonial for the tennis therapy program to delight of the coaches but other than that June was mostly a learning month.

Books read: The Gabriel Method (non-fiction). I received a free copy and gave it a read even though it technically qualifies as a weight loss book. It’s the method of weight loss that sets it apart from others — meditation, visualization, emotional healing, fulfillment. Of course there are the requisite chapters on diet and exercise too but the inner work makes up the bulk of the text. I recommend meditation and visualization no matter what, and the author doesn’t disparage veganism, so no harm done.

Documentaries:

  • Transcendence (Gaia) — this is technically a docu-series but so chock full of gems I had to watch several of the episodes twice
  • Becoming Nobody — (I saw it on Gaia but I believe it is available many places) if I had known how funny Ram Dass was I wouldn’t have waited so long to listen to him speak.
  • Abstract: The Art of Design (Netflix) — also a series. Lighter fare than the other two but intellectual stimulation helps the brain grow in new and different directions, y’all.

Physical Wellness

Slight changes this month. I decided not to bother with the Garmin badges. They are still fun to collect but this month I felt the space to publish other rituals was better used in other ways. Still vegan. Still practicing the rituals of running, hiking, tennis, and yoga. However, the years of running miles for distance or time simply to achieve the distance or time have come to an end. A natural end and a sweet one; with no regrets.

The green flower is the Courage flower. It took courage to let go. I was once a long distance runner. I was a long distance runner for a long time. Decades. And even when my distances have not been long I’ve continued running for endurance. Non-stop steady miles, with some walk breaks but in general, the classical distance-runner method. I was afraid to give this up as I’ve transitioned into tennis because I didn’t want to not be a runner, and I thought it would make me slower on the court.

Wrong. Exactly the opposite. I may have even gotten faster. The hunter-gatherer body is designed for short bursts of speed followed by recovery. This is our natural function as humans, so what will come easiest to the body by default? Activity aligned with our natural design and function. I think this is why tennis feels so good; it’s more natural for the human body. Endurance running used to feel good because I took pleasure in overcoming the hardship. The achievement of doing something so hard was the reward. I’ve let that go.

Tennis still requires effort, practice, and dedication but it feels good while I’m doing it. It feels natural. So there is a sense of ease even as I’m doing the work. I loved my years of traditional distance running. It was therapy. I’m grateful for this transition period of fitness-oriented running because the discomfort and frustration prompted growth, as discomfort and frustration usually do. My needs are simply different now. So this month I ceased fighting the change and shifted into a better alignment. And it feels … well, better. And my tennis performance? Naturally better.

Social Wellness

Have you been told to stay in your lane yet? It’s okay. This doesn’t mean stop. It doesn’t mean go home. Keep going.

Being anti-racist has long been a foregone conclusion. I assumed people could already tell. My most visible act of anti-racism was to date and marry outside my race. I believed I firmly and deliberately established my identity as an ally to People of Color by living it 24/7 as a lifestyle as compared to occasional participation. For a long time even my Black and Brown friends and family would joke that my card has already been punched. Those jokes have faded into the past. It isn’t funny anymore.

I slammed into a wall this month when I heard that I am not an ally until the Black community deems me an ally. I heard I can’t identify as an ally until the title is conferred to me by the Black community, and it will only be conferred to me if I earn it. Marrying a Person of Color was not sufficient because this alone does not dismantle white supremacy, ergo it is not fighting racism.

I agree that one action alone is not sufficient. And at the time I married as an act of love rather than an act of war, so I agree it can’t be considered an anti-racist strategy after the fact. But I assumed interracial marriage made it was obvious where I stood on the issue; that it was a publicly visible marker of identity. And perhaps it was at the time and would still be today, but I think the woman criticizing me was making the point that it doesn’t give anyone a pass. Or an excuse not to fight. This is why the card punch joke isn’t funny anymore.

I can accept this point with relative ease because I am not worried about my identity. I want no supremacy. I’m a sure thing. But I do worry that it may deter beginners and newbies and folks just now getting on board. I don’t want anyone newly converted to jump off board because they might hear this and become complacent or paralyzed or give up. The white perspective on racism is actively evolving within people whose advantages can be a catalyst for deeper, farther-reaching change.

White fragility means my gut reaction to the reproach was of course to offer up all the other actions that might qualify. All my other proof of allyship. But then I reconsidered. Defending the quality of anti-racism implies such a thing can be measured. If it can be measured it can be judged good, better, or best. And likewise bad, worse, and worst. We are either anti-racist or we are not. It’s not a spectrum or a points system. You simply can’t be a better revolutionary than someone else (or a worse one) because that’s not how revolution works.

My friends, if you are told you’re not doing it right, do not let it dissuade you or prompt you to do nothing. The anti-racist movement cannot afford to lose anyone over semantics. If you are doing anything in support and defense of People of Color — ANYTHING — keep doing it, and if someone tells you it isn’t good enough you need to keep doing it anyway. ANY act of anti-racism you take helps build and maintain momentum. Your first step and every step after that makes an impact, from a phone call to boots on the ground to being a lone voice of dissent. We all have contributions to make and they are all needed.

Whatever you are doing to resist, defy, challenge, or defeat racism, keep doing it. Any personal sacrifice. Any corrective action. The next better choice. The next opportunity. Even if you are criticized or corrected in the beginning, don’t stop. No one knows how to win a war in basic training. And for that matter, we don’t tell veterans they don’t get to use the term veteran simply because they didn’t carry a gun or fly a plane. Medics are still veterans. Supply clerks are still veterans. Recruiters are still veterans. Still soldiers. Still fighters.

Your work/fight may look different than the work/fight of others but rather than assume it is less important, consider that it is critical that we are not all working/fighting the same way. If we agree that racism and white supremacy are systemic then disabling the system will require more than one method and more than one kind of specialist. Everyone who aligns themselves with this cause will bring different gifts, talents, privileges, and access to the cause. Don’t let anyone convince you that you don’t belong in this fight because you’re not an expert in someone’s else’s specialty. Every white person who moves out of neutrality and into action against white supremacy becomes an ally, whether anyone acknowledges this to you or about you or not.

As long as I have lived on this planet there have been humans telling me what I do is not good enough, from the most mundane daily task to life’s greatest challenges, all the way down to how I occupy or present my body. Religions do this. Academia does this. Families do this. Of course there will be someone telling me my love is not good enough either. Nor the courage of my convictions, nor my activism. It won’t serve my responsibilities any better to squander the time, energy, or resources I might contribute on bickering over what I should or shouldn’t call myself while I’m doing it.

Don’t stop helping, y’all. Not even if someone says No Thanks. Don’t stop learning. Don’t stop participating. A label only matters if you want celebrity or need to wear the club pin to feel worthy. If you are white, ending white supremacy is non-negotiable for you. It’s your job. If you fight, you’re a fighter. If you ally yourself and your resources, you’re an ally. It’s something we must live, not something that can be given to us.

Spiritual Wellness

I realize after all this time that all of this is spiritual wellness. All of this work is spiritual work. It is all a form of spirituality. All efforts and all results are spiritual. The work itself is prayer. And praise. And this is why it feels like truth to call it ritual.

I found this sign early one morning on a run. Now that I’m changing the way I run I feel compelled to call it a wrun. So early one morning on a wrun I found this battered sign. Leaning backward and twisted to the left. Cracked. Moldy. Faded. The irony was just too great to pass up.

The sign doesn’t even mark the entrance to the church. It marks the parking lot. No one parks there anymore because no one attends the church anymore. COVID, of course. The damage/neglect surely took longer than 90 days to accumulate so I daresay we can’t blame no one around to see it or tend it. No one has cared about the upkeep of this sign for far longer than the COVID crisis.

Although I know what a Baptist is, I confess I don’t know the difference between all the different kinds of Baptists. Google tells me that Baptists in general originated in Belgium, spread to England, and a few decades later to the New World. These were NOT the fabled pilgrims, folks. When the pilgrims got on the Mayflower they were considered a separatist cult, anti-government because it was a faith-based government, but not an organized religion and not Baptists.

We (white Europeans in the colonies) were still British back then. We didn’t have an American federal government to shoot them, set fire to them, or crush their homes with tanks, so the pilgrims were the first separatist cult in the New World to survive. And who did they become? The first witch hunters in the New World. Think about it the next time you are chowing down on Thanksgiving turkey and dressing up your kiddos in Puritan costumes.

But back to the Baptists. Apparently First Baptist means literally that — first in America, making landfall in Rhode Island after the pilgrims. But even then, two Baptist ministers fought over which one of them was truly first to plant his flag. But the splitting up into various factions in America was first caused over slaveholding, with many other divisions to follow, to the point that one could almost custom-order his or her preferred style of baptism-based Christianity today. Free Will, Southern, Missionary, Pentacostal, First, etc.

I doubt I will ever stop being fascinated by stuff like this. This time around thanks to a rotting sign in Mercyburg, home to 94 churches, no joke.

Environmental Wellness

Backyard garden is still intact. Beans, vegetables, fruit (tomatoes are technically fruit), and herbs are growing. I’ve already eaten a few. And I was going to say that I’ve also learned how to use some herbs medicinally, but I knew what you’d think. That’s NOT what I mean! Not much to do for my homegrown groceries at this stage other than weeding. The plants are doing all the work themselves and El Doggo keeps them safe from large predators. I keep the killer worms away with old-fashioned witchy potions mixed up in a spray bottle; still not terribly labor intensive.

My ritual goal of eschewing single-use plastic drink containers has become more relevant to our COVID 19 restrictions. As events and facilities open back up, public amenities such as water fountains are forbidden, shut off, and locked up in Mercyburg. This might not seem like a big deal where you live but we have dangerously hot and humid summers here. This is not an exaggeration. And yes, our summers start in June and last until mid-October. In June we already achieved temps in the 90s. Water, ice, and cooling areas are requisite here for outdoor activity. But now the greater danger is deemed allowing citizens to use them.

The threat of death from a heat-related illness is now considered secondary to the threat of germing up a water dispenser with Covies. With no access to public water my options are to fill reusable bottles in public restroom sinks (yum, poop water) if possible or available, or haul water reserves with me. And even if I wanted to use the poop water, most sinks/faucets in public restrooms can’t accommodate any container larger than a Dixie cup. (Sigh) Enter the pallets of plastic water bottles.

My heart might be happy I have the privilege of resuming a tennis league or tournament previously suspended but it weeps when I see the water bottle bunkers. And padlocks on the public ice/water. So I’ve opted to haul. It’s a pain in the ass, yes, but I’m six months into this goal and it just now got hard. No still means no. Every time I accept a disposable water bottle or take-out drink container I encourage merchants to keep making them and selling them. The only way to make it stop is to stop accepting them, even if they are recyclable. A look around the planet is all it takes to see not nearly enough of them are being recycled.

Join me. Refuse to accept single-use plastic. I’ve gone six months without it. Imagine if two of us went six more. Or ten of us.

Occupational/Financial Wellness

Still working from home in June. I’ve been given the option to return to the office but I’m saving so much money by not commuting it makes little sense to go back right now.

COVID 19 numbers have also jumped recently in Mercyburg, so I’m loathe to return only be sent right back home again.

Still getting and giving home haircuts, making home remedies, and home cooking.

Educating at home. Conserving at home. Preserving at home. Still practicing home-based worship, home entertainment, home-based exercise (other than tennis). Stay-cationing, for sure. Wondering if the savings will be compelling enough for most people to make these changes semi-permanent after COVID is no longer a crisis. Or will we go wild with abandon and blow it all just because we can?

We’ll see. I’ll meet you back here in July, friends. Be well.

— Mercy

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