Daily Rituals

I found this book (Daily Rituals: How Artist Work) at the library yesterday and it’s been a fun read.  It looks at the lives of famous authors, artists, and thought-leaders and shares some of the rituals (habits) that aided (or hurt) their productivity.  It’s a quick read and it’s easy to pick up and set down because each person is explored in a short segment between 1-4 pages.

My major takeaway is everyone that everyone has rituals–some are unexamined, others are very intentional.  My other major takeaway is that effectiveness of a particular ritual depends on the person.  There is no one size fits all ritual. A minor takaway is that taking long walks and drinking alcohol seem to help a lot of people.

I’ve recently been thinking about daily rituals for two reasons.  First, my lead pastor has been vocal about how adding in daily and weekly rituals have helped him as a leader, pastor, family man, and child of God.  Second, I’m currently rereading Essentialism which talks about the value of rituals to help you do the things you want to do with less thinking and less stress.

Here’s what I’m learning about rituals:

  • Rituals allow you to think less about things that unnecessarily tie up brain-space. I’m facing some serious decision-fatigue in my life right now.  I’m looking for ways to make less decisions so I’ve got the brain-space I need to make good decisions. I’m considering moving toward an all-black and grey (with appropriate accents) wardrobe and laying out outfits for the whole week on Saturday night so I never have to think about what I’m wearing.  I’m not good at fashion, I don’t enjoy it, and it takes me forever to find and outfit.  On a more simple scale, our six-year old has a bed time ritual: she goes to her room, puts on pajamas, brushes her teeth, then one of us goes up and reads a book, the Bible, and prays with her then she crawls into bed. She’s building in good habits with these rituals like brushing her teeth and reading her Bible without thinking about it, it’s just what she does.
  • Rituals can help you adjust more efficiently.  If you go through a ritual when you’re preparing to spend quiet time with God (like grabbing your tea, sitting in your favorite chair, opening your journal, and quieting your mind) your mind begins the transition as soon as you grab your tea and sit in your chair because it knows what’s coming. With my daughter’s night time ritual, it’s easier for her to fall asleep when we’ve walked through the whole ritual because her brain is catching on that it’s sleep time and begins preparing for that.
  • I need rituals to keep me sane.  I’m learning that I’m not taking control of my schedule so it is controlling me and by the time I get home at night, I’m fried and my family-life suffers.  So, in addition to finding other ways to get my calendar to calm down,  I’m trying out a ritual where I spend 30 minutes at the end of my workday exercising before I head home.  The goal is to release stress and give my brain time to transition between work and family.  I’ve only done it once but it worked well, so I want to become more consistent at it.
  • I rebel against rituals.  As much as I think I want structure I’m drawn to jobs that are not structured.  It has been years since I’ve had a job with a clear clock-in/clock-out time.  I like my the freedom my current job allows.  I’m afraid rituals will box me in.  In my personal life, I love Fridays (my day off) because it’s the day that I drive my daughter to school while wearing my pajamas under my boots and coat.  I love the feeling of rebelling against the expectation that I get up, get dressed, and get moving.  There is a happy medium between control and chaos and I have not yet found it and I know rituals can help but I fear they’ll become restrictive.

I’m clearly a work-in-process when it comes to rituals; I’m sure you are too. If you’re interested in thinking more about rituals, stream Pete’s sermon online on the 22nd (next Sunday) and follow All Shores’ Facebook Page the week of January 23-29 as we’ll be posting different rituals that help people in our church connect with God as part of our 28 Ways in 28 Days series.  You could also check out either of the books mentioned above or the Art of Simple Podcast that I listened to today  (episode 42).

 

What rituals do you have that are helpful?  Unhelpful?  How do you change your habits?

 

It’s easier to dream

I had this idea to write a new blog (because, you know, all the cool kids are getting into blogging…in 2017) and I have a very specific idea for the content and a pretty clear idea who my intended audience is and a general idea of what I want it to look like.   I finally discovered a name for it, bought a domain name, nearly had a breakdown when I realized I misspelled the name of the blog when I bought the domain, bought the correct domain, and have begun mapping content, playing with photo editors, planning what I could write about…pretty much everything other than actually writing.  Because it turns out writing is hard.  Especially when you really care about your topic and your audience.  It turns out that it’s easier to dream than to do.

dream (see…photo editing.  I even figured out how to add the website at the bottom.  score)

I’m going to keep this blog as a place to write about things that relate to me being a woman, a wife, a mom, a theologian…but I’m starting another blog to focus exclusively on theology, specifically creating a safe space for women to explore our Wesleyan theological heritage.

You might scoff and/or ask, “Do women really need their own blog about theology?” and, after much scoffing and asking myself this same question I have a very clear and firm answer: no but yes.

No, truth is truth regardless of your gender. And, really the content (at least 90% of it) won’t be gender specific at all (the fonts and photos might be a bit feminine at times).

But yes, because a lot of women have less opportunity to explore theology with academically credible moderators than men.  They also seem more likely to be intimidated by the topic than men. And I know they want to learn.  They want to hear, to ask, to doubt, to create, to explore, to know truth and live truth and communicate truth. I want to help them.

In a perfect world men and women would sit at the same table, learn theology from and with both genders, but it’s not a perfect world and while I want to move toward a perfect world I also want to work with the reality of what exists and I want to serve the church well.  I’m uniquely positioned to credibly contribute to the theological education and transformation of women (because of my gender, my experience, and the letters behind my name) so I’m going for it.

And I invite you to come a long with me.  Because theology matters.  What we know in our heads and believe in our hearts about who God is, who we are, and how those two things relate makes all the difference in the world.  Out of the overflow of our hearts (the core of what we know and feel to be true) we speak and we act.  So let’s start inside.  Let’s bring to light and evaluate what we think and what we believe about God, ourselves, and the world in light of Scripture.

The journey will begin at http://www.windandmilk.com.   Wait, no, that’s not right, http://www.wineandmilk.com (or http://www.wineandmilk.com/blog)

I plan to post on Mondays…and the first post is up (the second will be up in two days)!

 

Renew

I have tried to have a word for the year (My One Word) because other people did it and I thought it was cool. I have tried to come up with a word and then try to make that word meaningful for the whole year.  It never worked.  My word was abandoned as quickly as my New Year’s Resolutions.

Because of my history of trying and failing I had a bit of anxiety when I found out that my Pastor was talking about this idea at church on January 1st.  But God, in his grace, had a word find me before I could try to come up with a word on my own.  Until the word found me, I didn’t know how badly I needed it.

renew

I am scuffed up and worn out. I need renewal.  I believe God wants to dig deep and renew me in 2017.

I think it primarily comes from the idea of being transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2) which will involved destroying lofty arguments and opinions raised against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5).  I need to get back to my roots and my love of soaking in and studying the Bible…for fun…not for school or for someone else and let it transform me by the renewing of my mind.

I think there will also be elements of God renewing a right spirit in my (Psalms 51:10) along with renewal in my relationship with him and renewal in other relationships in my life.

I don’t know what my next step is.  There are a ton of ways I could attempt to facilitate renewal.  But I believe God gave me the word (renew) so I’m trusting he’ll lead me to the path of renewal he wants me to take.  I don’t have to strive to figure it all out today (especially because it’s the striving that has me so scuffed up and weary).  In fact, I shouldn’t strive at all, I should ask him and then pay attention. This is not about me creating renewal for myself but about God recreating me.

Have you ever chosen a word for the year? How has it impacted your life?