Discovering Rituals that Serve Me

I love rituals. From mindfully preparing my food, to afternoon tea, to following the seasons as I work in my backyard garden, my life is full of these little ceremonies. A ritual is defined as an observance or practice that is performed the same way each time. Truthfully, we all practice daily rituals such as brushing our teeth, taking our vitamins, or fixing our hair.

So it was a challenge when my activity from the Love Your Life in 30 Days course instructed me to choose a new ritual to perform, daily, in the upcoming days and weeks.

After much thought, I could not come up with a totally new ritual, so often do I perform ceremonies around my various activities. I chose to group together several rituals that I enjoy, and create instead a different bedtime routine.

It is important that my new ceremony be easy to prepare and relatively brief…10 minutes or less. I performed a trial run this evening of my new nighttime ritual, and of course, I captured the moments in photos.

I chose my bedroom for this pre-bedtime routine, lighting eight candles to soften the room and relax my mind and body.

Burning dried herbs is a key part of several of my favorite rituals. I love the fragrance that wafts through the room and the smoke that curls toward the ceiling. It seemed natural to include this practice.

I prepared a hot drink to soothe me toward sleep. Tonight’s choice was a health packed apple cider flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, ginger, cloves and cranberries. Every evening, as I prepare for slumber, I will jot down five things from the day that I am grateful for. My grandson Jonathan gave me a personalized journal for Christmas, that is perfect for writing my gratitude in.

Jonathan included a cute giraffe bookmark as well. Expressing gratitude daily focuses my attention on the best parts of my day, expanding my heart and filling it with quiet joy. And it prepares me for the final segment of my ceremony.

I concluded the ritual with five minutes or so of meditation, closing my eyes, relaxing my body, and focusing on my breathing. Long slow inhale of breath…hold for a few seconds…slow exhale of breath…pause…repeat. I love how quickly this simple meditation centers me, slowing my heart rate and releasing muscle tension.

As I finished the meditation, I visualized my bright and shiny future, full of travel adventures, writing, abundance, optimal health, love and creativity, without delving into the details, or burdening myself with the hows and whens. I just allowed joy and gratitude to bubble up, and flow outward.

It has taken me longer to write about my ritual, than it did to experience it! This is a very doable ceremony that brings my focus to the present moment and allows me to express gratitude. There is a sacredness in ending my day in this way. Sacred implies holy, set apart, and that is precisely the underlying feeling that I intend. Every action lends itself to reflection and relaxation and the releasing of joyful appreciation, making this time very much like a prayer, or an offering of my heart and soul, to my Source.

I look forward to seeing how this nightly practice impacts my sleep…and my life.

Dreamer of Dreams

I have been in creative mode today, which lent itself perfectly to creating a vignette. I have been participating in Mike Dooley’s Love Your Life in 30 Days program, which includes expansive daily exercises. One activity was to create visual representations for each of five areas in my life that I am focused on growing in.

I chose to put together five new vignettes…a fun activity for me. So far I have created a Travel vignette, and an Abundance one. Tonight, it was time to assemble a Creativity vignette.

The creativity vignette seemed to belong in my studio. And the ideal spot in my studio for this new work was the vintage ironing board, serving as a table.

Here’s how the vignette came together, and the story around its creation.

I knew I wanted to use this framed quote as one of the pieces. It is meaningful to me. As I gathered other items, I realized the tray I had set aside for the vignette was not going to be big enough to contain my idea. So the vignette outgrew its “box”, spreading across the wooden surface of the ironing board. This is very like the way creativity can start from a small seed of an idea and expand.

Next to the framed quote I added a stack of coloring books. Their covers connected together beautifully, through colors of cream, gold, silver and copper, which led me to plop the similarly toned candle holder atop of them. Mason jars held bouquets of colorful pencils.

The tray at the other end of the ironing board holds a collection of creative items.

The bright fabric balls reflect the colors of the pencils. The ceramic jar was made by my younger daughter, Adriel, when she was a child. It holds folded slips of paper for when I play the Inspiration Game.

I created the flower print, using a page from a vintage encyclopedia as the background, and colored pencils to fill in my sketch. And the canvas print has one of my favorite quotes on it, about being creative.

Blessed are the gypsies, the makers of music, the artists, writers, dreamers of dreams, wanderers and vagabonds, children and misfits: for they teach us to see the world through beautiful eyes.

I placed a wooden candlestick outside the tray…and lit the candles. It is important to me that each of the five vignettes has a light source. Light represents inspiration to me, which flows through all areas of my life.

I am pleased with the Creativity vignette. It will inspire me every time I walk into the room, and send forth my desire to live intentionally in creativity, beauty and art.

The vignette reminds me that I am a dreamer of dreams. And, I am blessed.

Showcasing My Vision: Abundance

Late this afternoon, I created my second specialized vignette, showcasing an area in my life that I want to see continued growth in. I am enjoying Mike Dooley’s Love Your Life in 30 Days online course. One of the assignments was to create a visual representation for each of five areas in my life that I am shifting.

I came up with the idea of creating vignettes for each dream of mine, beginning with Travel. These vignettes are 3D vision boards. They remind me of the transformational play I am engaging in and that it is not my job to figure out the whys and hows.

The area I focused on today was Abundance. For me, abundance is more than a monetary flow. It is being open to receive resources, quality time, creativity, and ideas.

I selected the vintage wooden sieve on my dining room table to house my Abundance vignette.

Here is how the project came together:

I lined the wooden sieve with a pair of silvery placemats. These were recycled from a Christmas vignette.

I spent an hour or more, gathering items to play with in making the abundance vignette. I knew I primarily wanted silver and gold objects.

This silver lamp is actually a tea light candle holder. It adds height to the grouping, and it represents the light of inspiration, which births creativity.

I knew I wanted to include this vintage pocket watch as well. Time is something I hope to have an abundance of.

This pretty box works for several reasons. It has the gold and silver colors I desired, giving it a rich look. I added coins from around the world, representing money, and also travel. And the heart shape signifies love.

I used a silver, gold and black bracelet strand as a garland. The dark beads are hematite, which causes the bracelet to be magnetic. The magnetism is a perfect symbol for attracting abundance. Plus, the bracelet is worn to lessen pain and improve circulation and the flow of electromagnetic energy through the body, making it an ideal symbol for health also.

I got creative in coming up with a framed print to include in the vignette. I don’t own a suitable framed quote, so I made my own Abundance art using a vintage gold and mother of pearl frame, and two gold and silver thank you notes. It’s low tech, and yet it works beautifully!

The pic below shows the completed vignette. I am pleased with how it came together. It has a simple, clean look, and it is full of symbolism. At either end of the table, I added white stoneware plates with beaded garlands, fat white candles and wire cloches.

What I love most about this abundance vignette is the immediate positive reinforcement that I received. The mail arrived, as I was working on the vignette. After I completed my project and took photos, I opened a package that had been delivered. It contained my workbook for the Love Your Life in 30 Days course, which inspired this visual art.

There was a letter included with the workbook. I circled the part that made me laugh. The letter states that as a thank you for ordering the book, a surprise is included. A link is provided for a free downloadable MP3 that I can listen to. The title of this gift? Abundance: 21 Steps to Opening the Floodgates.

It didn’t take long for more abundance to flow into my life. And I am not surprised at all. I am delighted though, and full of joy and gratitude. I marvel at the wonder of it all.