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

I promised another iteration of my Samhain self-portrait, so there she is. It is by far my favorite of all the versions I crafted from the original photo. It may very well end up bring my favorite calendar page for the entire year.

Spiritual Wellness

As a follow-up ritual to my post Spiritual Sanitation, I’ve begun using an essential oil diffuser at bath time, in the bathing room, which is locally known as The Temple of the Cleanse. I really meant it when I said I intended to offer physical offerings of gratitude for the luxury of indoor plumbing and sewer service. See that post for further explanation.

Intentional and deliberate but not necessarily elaborate. The diffuser is a gift I received for my birthday last year. It operates with a tea light candle to heat the oil and water in the topside reservoir. Low tech and minimal; but the sight of it every time I step into the loo for any reason reminds me of my intention to offer a prayer of gratitude. When I linger for soaking and soothing and the full-on home spa experience, the diffuser amplifies the ritual of thanks-giving.

Financial Wellness

The ritual of a new Spending Diet to offset the expenditures of October. I write about it but when do I show it? November is when I show it. As mentioned last month, a Spending Fast is no non-essential spending — none. A Spending Diet is limited spending on non-essentials. I’m back on a Spending Diet through the end of the year to pay off a loan faster even though it is a zero interest loan. This is what essential versus non-essential looks like:

Essential SpendingNon-essential Spending
Gasoline Beauty products & services
Housing (mortgage & taxes)Tennis lessons & court fees
Zero interest loan (wash/dryer)Gifts for family/friends
Health/dental ins./co-paysHoliday lights/decorations
Cellular
Intentional savings
Prescriptions
Office supplies

Non-essentials have a strict limit, hence the term diet. You’re wondering why there are no entries for things like utilities and food. I don’t pay for them. Long ago my partner and I divided the household expenses so that we are each individually responsible for managing certain costs. Other costs are shared when they come up, such as pet care and home repairs. My partner’s expenses (and savings) aren’t included on the list because I don’t have to manage them. It’s a wellness ritual all its own; managing only my list. When something unexpected comes up, we each kick in half. My half comes from intentional savings.

It’s also a ritual of trust. We each have to trust the other to manage our respective incomes, bills, and savings appropriately with no interference. We keep separate accounts so we each feel a sense of sovereignty over our spending money and investments. No one needs to ask permission to buy something, or quibble over how much, when, or why. As long as we are each meeting our agreed obligations, it’s none of our business. As a result we never fight about bills or money. Not fighting is an essential wellness ritual.

Physical Wellness

No major changes this month. Enduring rituals of yoga, tennis, running, hiking, and continuing to remain vegan always top this category.

I said no major changes, so I guess this is a minor change but it sure felt major. Mineral soak, as in bath salts for muscle soreness and skin conditioning and aromatherapy — where has THIS been all my life? How did I not know how Mercy this stuff is, was, has been? I received a small packet of mineral salts as a free sample when I bought a bar of soap from a small business. Gave them a try at the next ritual bath. Holey buckets, y’all. I am a freshly minted believer.

And speaking of believing. Remember last summer when I received a free copy of The Gabriel Method? It’s a meditation-based weight loss book and program. I read it out of curiosity, fully prepared to scoff, but I promised you I would follow up on it. I tried the meditation technique, no joke, open mind, for four months now. Ahem … no bullshit, I’m down 19 lbs.

You know what they say. If you believe it works then it works. And even if it is working in collaboration with a new job and a new puppy, results are results. Since every dog walk includes some running and nary a day can go by without burning off that pup energy, it’s surely more than just the one thing. Here are some snapshots of all the additional things:

You noticed muddy green lights and a headlamp in the slideshow? Wondered what they were? Safety gear. Same with the sorta-camo running shoes. Highly reflective. Weeknight dog walks and runs are dark now. Blinking lights on the leashes become mud-encrusted blinking lights when you drop them in the dark on a soggy field and said leashes are dragged for the length of time it takes you to catch them. After that I started wearing the headlamp.

Intellectual Wellness & Creativity

Creative rituals remained unchanged in November as well: blogging all of the month’s posts, amateur photos in all of those posts and this one, and rearranging the indoor landscape to accommodate my Fa-ing of the La Las (see my post from Nov. 22nd if this reference is unclear). The Fa-ing itself is also a creative ritual but I’m saving photos of that for next month.

Books read: The Great Cosmic Mother by Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor.

Documentaries: none this month.

Video/Podcasts: Hope on a Cellular Level, Danielle LaPorte & Zach Bush, MD and Notes on Being a Good Human from the Be Here Now Network.

Environmental Wellness

My post Cash In The Trash on Thanksgiving Day pretty much covered this category and since it was full length, too long for the highlight reel.

But about Thanksgiving …

Emotional Wellness & Relationships

This year’s was the first Thanksgiving Day I did not go to bed utterly exhausted, inside and out. We did not do the family gathering, which I dread every year, because it is so draining for so little return on the energy/time investment. I’ve been wishing for years now that we could just skip it. I fantasize about going somewhere — anywhere — for Thanksgiving just to get out of the obligatory forced family gathering which no one seems to enjoy. I hate it that a deadly pandemic finally gave me my wish but I’m not going to lie about the relief. It was blissful to stay home.

I’m not projecting the no one enjoys it part. I truly believe in my heart no one likes doing it but certain people around the table think something is wrong with the family if we don’t do it — play out the whole traditional production. I tend to think something is wrong with the family so willing to fake it year after year and sit in awkward discomfort waiting to leave as soon as the meal is finished. It wears me out. I don’t believe I’m the only one but no one wants to be brave enough to suggest we stop the exhausting charade. It is obvious most would really rather be home with their immediate family units. COVID gave that to us this year. I’m conflicted about celebrating this but I honest-to-goodness loved the peace and ease and honesty.

I brazenly made it my gratitude statement for the day. What was I grateful for this year? I was grateful Thanksgiving was cancelled. I’m not sorry. It’s the truth and I want all of my relationships to be honest. I write this every week as I plan rituals to support how I want to feel. Under relationships: honest. And honestly, 150,000 dead people are not worth it, so I can’t be grateful for the reason. I’d rather those people were still alive and I would endure the annual discomfort if it meant they could live, so don’t misunderstand. I’m not grateful for COVID.

I am, however, grateful for the insights COVID has prompted. One of those insights is that my dishonesty about Thanksgiving has been making me miserable. On repeat. On purpose. Can I be brave enough post-COVID to change this? We shall see. Imagining the post-COVID world is too big a bite right now with cases spiking again all the weary world. Who can say what it will all look like when this is over? Over feels too far away right now. But when we get there I hope at the very least it is more Honest.

And just like that, my next Word Of The Year is clarified. WOTY is an annual ritual (in fact, Ritual was my word for 2020), and although I don’t usually nail it down this early, Honest feels right for 2021. It may be the hardest one yet, though hard is not the point. I could go any number of directions with this ritual. I don’t have to make it hard. I could pick any word to be a theme and build practices around it. For instance, I could choose Purple. Or Soft. Or Clean. Or Giving. Or Patience. Or Easy. All good things to be, but Honest is the work I am choosing. I am, of course, fully aware that when I have to be honest next November I will really wish I chose purple. I’ve got a year to work on it though.

I’ll stop here for the month, nice and easy. See you in December, friends.

Glad tidings,

— Mercy

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