From Resolutions to Rituals

to-release-1-1245884-1279x1924It’s that time of year.  The time when we get busy writing our list of resolutions and checking them twice.  If you are at all interested in personal growth or self-help, you can find books, journals, and art projects to inspire you to live your best year yet.  Recently, there has been an emphasis on letting go of the list of to do’s and instead picking an image or a word for the year.  These New Year’s traditions can certainly help motivate you to self-actualize.  However, if you want to deepen your relationship with yourself, your partner, and your family, a ritual to release the previous year can help make space to manifest your hopes for the new year.

What sets a ritual apart from a tradition or a resolution?

Rituals are like living poetry.  They make a change come alive by honoring that change–real change–affects more than just what we do.  A real change takes body, mind, and spirit. Rituals also allow for the paradoxes and polarities to be seen, felt, named, and honored rather than resolved or reconciled.  Think about the many rituals that surround weddings…from the exchange of rings to the sand ceremony to the parent-child dance, these rituals honor the joy and grief of creating a new family.

What do I do to create a ritual?

  • Think over the last year and make a list of highs and lows.
  • Write the blessings and challenges that have come from both your highs and lows.
  • Thank the year for all you’ve received.
  • Look over your list and see if any themes or ideas emerge.
  • Think of what you want to release from the previous year.  How can you lovingly let those pieces go?
  • Think of what you want to grow more.  How can you invite those elements to flourish?
  • Think about how you want to mark this transition.  Do you want to do it privately?  Should you have a small gathering of friends?

For example, if you’re an engaged couple getting married in 2017–whether or not you live together, you are saying goodbye to single life.  What parts of single life will you miss? What aspects of singlehood are you ready to send packing?  Individually, take time to look back over your last year, and write a letter to your Single-Self.  Honor both the joy and the grief your Single-Self feels.  Does your Single-Self need a ritual with your friends?  Just thinking this way could transform the bachelor/bachelorette party from a to-do list item to a time of really celebrating your friendships.

Once you’ve written your letter and have an idea for a ritual your single-Self would like, you have an opportunity to deepen your relationship with your fiancee.  Create a date night where the two of you share your letters with each other.  Honor the fact that there might be some mixed emotions about saying “I do.”  Creating time and space for your Single-Selves to share with one another decreases stress and wedding jitters.  Better yet, you’ve started to navigate the tricky waters of self-care and relationship care.  This practice will not only sustain your engagement–it will help grow your marriage.

Good-Bye Wagon; Hello Sugar Hang-Over

Before I begin my blog for today, let me first say, I feel partly absurd and frivolous for even writing a blog entry about last M. Malick’s weekly weight loss struggle.  With the recent earthquake and tsunami in Northern Japan and the subsequent devastation and potential nuclear disaster, writing about weight loss feels a little self-indulgent to say the least.  And for those who have read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I see myself a little like the fictional Juliet.  Writing something trifling.  Or so it seems.

If you couldn’t guess from the title of this week’s entry, last week provided a dietary challenge.  It started with Pie Day.  What is Pie Day? You wonder.  It is how the staff celebrated Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, or more apt, Fat Tuesday.  All staff persons were invited to make a pie to share for lunch.  And pies included, but were not limited to, dessert pies, shepherd’s pies, empanadas, and spanakopita.  So, since I lost 2+ pounds last week, I indulged a little.  And oh it was wonderful.  I officially treated myself to a day off…knowing that Ash Wednesday was the following day, and I would be back on the wagon.  Or so I planned.  Well, what started as a day off turned into 5.  That’s right.  Five!  Now, just to be clear, I did not go and buy gallons of ice cream, demolish an entire bag of chips, or devour an entire batch of cookies.  Not at all.  What I did was not measure, not plan, and not think.  Thursday was a late lunch including 3/4 of a personal pizza and Friday started a 24 hour women’s retreat.  Although I was part of the staff leading the retreat, my detail eye did not design what I would eat.  So, I ate what we had.  Which included a nice wine and cheese, fried green tomato casserole, brownies, and ice cream.

But apparently my eyes are now officially bigger than my stomach.  The brownie and ice cream indulgence was Friday night. And Saturday morning I awoke with a head and stomach ache.  If I didn’t have to work, I would have stayed in bed.  I had a hangover–a sugar hangover.  I have heard of this before.  Wasn’t sure it was possible.  Thought it was probably a Weight Watcher Myth attempting to help us stay on plan.  But I’m here to tell you, it is possible.  Apparently, I have changed more than my waistline in the las month.  My body no longer finds comfort in uber-sugar indulgence.  (Now I don’t mean to say I’m not going to have a brownie again–but I think half a brownie as opposed to two is a good plan.)  Amazing!

What’s even more amazing is that I avoided having the hair of the dog that bit me.  I knew I could assuage my stomach strain with a little sweet treat.  And Saturday night offered cupcakes with thick, creamy frosting.  They looked good.  But I still didn’t feel quite right.  And I decided to say no.  Wasn’t worth it.  Didn’t want to wake-up hung-over again.  One woman commented, You’re so good.  I don’t think it was being good so much as a matter of self-love and self-care.  I guess I am learning to be a better steward of myself.  And I discovered that this love tastes much better than brownies and ice cream.

Quotes for the week

“Ever’thing there is but lovin’ leaves rust on yo’ soul”–Langston Hughes

“We must alter our lives in order to alter our hearts, for it is impossible to live one way and pray another” –William Law

“Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly”–Philippians 3:19**

**I’m not big on the destruction selections in Scripture, but in light of the feeling in my belly, I thought this an apt excerpt