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

Financial Wellness

The garden experiment is working. It is now a fully fledged ritual. My neighbors and I are now exchanging groceries over the fence. Homegrown; some from seed and some from low-cost seedling plants but all producing food surplus. We each planted different foods in our respective yards so we could trade. Every day we pick. At least once per week we meet at the fence to swap our goods.

Every day I am eating from the garden. Every week a cache of food goes into the freezer for use after the growing season. Twice this month a home remedy was concocted of herbs instead going to the medicine cabinet. Tea comes from the back yard. Seasonings come from the back yard. It’s working. It did not take significant acreage or a massive building project; I simply forfeited a little lawn for a few 6 X 6 plots.

Additional rituals to support financial wellness included carpooling to tennis matches with teammates and bulk-ordering equipment to divide and keep us stocked through the next season (autumn). In truth, this is supposed to be the off-season. Spring League typically ends in May. We weren’t supposed to have league play at all during the dog days. But COVID, you know, so the Spring league finally concluded in July.

Spiritual Wellness

What is being given to me in this moment? What is being provided to me in this moment. Every moment holds a gift for me. Where is the gift in this?

Intellectual Wellness & Creativity

Books read: In A Field of Blue, by Gemma Liviero

Documentaries: The Power of the Heart (Gaia), Stress (Gaia), and The Family (Netflix)

Rituals in this category were heavier on the creativity than the book-learning (or screen-learning). The ritual of blogging remains among my most joyous and fulfilling, but images this month were more deliberately crafted than simply driven by opportunity. This adds more joy and fulfillment to the visual rituals too.

For instance, this month I wanted to take a self-portrait with a theme of filthy. Delightfully filthy. Wholesomely filthy. As in the head-to-toe dirt-sweat-soot cocktail of filth which accumulates after an hour of toiling upon the earth in Mercyburg’s hell heat. The baseline filth is the sweat. Not a glisten but a pouring sweat; the running down the arms and legs in tiny rivers kind of sweat. All dirt flung by yanking weeds, carrying weed bundles, and setting them aflame in the fire pit sticks to this sweat. The soot from the fire sticks to the sweat.

Sometimes the plants themselves have sticky residues or clingy particles. These sit on the skin and turn black when the smoke rolls over and the dirt peppers on. The result is glorious filth.

Dead bugs, live bugs, grass, mud, minced bits of unidentified flora and fauna.

From forehead to sock line, gorgeous gritty grime. Filth of such ferocity you have the clean the bathing tub after you bathe. You should have rinsed in the shower first. Is this funny or gross, you muse. It’s filthy.

But if you don’t appreciate that sort of thing, I managed a double exposure self-portrait in which it is impossible to tell how sweaty and filthy I am/was. I say am because the dog days of summer are here in Mercyburg. Until October we will be sweaty more than we are not sweaty.

I love the way it turned out but you should know it’s a lie. I was drenched in sweat.

Physical Wellness

The usual rituals; still vegan, tennis, yoga, etc. Watch the slideshow carefully and you’ll see the truthful sweat-fest which enabled the falsely fresh double exposure shot. You may also notice this is the first time I’ve included an image of rest, which is as important as all of the activity.

The weeds on the tennis courts are due to lack of maintenance in public facilities during COVID 19. You don’t get this neglect at the private clubs, but then, the private clubs are not free.

Occupational Wellness

I work on these highlight reel posts all month long, a little at a time. When I started the post, I was still working remotely. By end of the month I would be unexpectedly unemployed and then just as suddenly re-employed. Within a span of a few days my occupational status changed four times: employee, unemployed, job seeker, new hire. I was and still am observing the ritual of riding the tide of change. I wrote about this last week so you can hop back to Sacramental Pause for more.

Social Wellness & Relationships

Leaving a job and starting a new one within a few days naturally means the abrupt end of relationships and the sudden beginnings of new ones. Rarely have I had a working relationship — working as in at work — survive a job change. We always say Let’s keep in touch and Let’s get together but it rarely happens or lasts very long. I do think we mean it when we say it and often hope it will be true that we will remain friends but typically the few checking-in text messages gradually dwindle to yearly or semi-yearly greetings. Eventually I become just someone you used to know.

That’s okay. This too is a ritual. We are trained to believe that if or once we care about someone we should never have to say goodbye to them, yet life shows us over and over this is not a realistic expectation. We are guaranteed to say to goodbye to everyone we grow to love, as well as those we don’t. Friendships are seasons, as are working relationships. This is simply a change of season.

I’ll see you in August, friends. Be well.

–Mercy

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