Rituals are an important part of our culture–from Thanksgiving dinner to 4th of July fireworks, we rely on these repeated customs for connection with family and with friends. Rituals are also closely associated with organized religions–weekly or for some daily mass, prayers at Noon. Rites of passage are often marker by rituals–bar and bat mitzvahs, quinceanera, proms.

Small daily practices can be rituals, too. Morning coffee, meditations. Mine have been interrupted or perhaps even corrupted. I have aging parents living with me. With aging comes loss of hearing. With loss of hearing comes loudness–loud tv, loud conversations marked with the impatience that one is not able to hear the other. It is never quiet here. So I have had to make adjustments. I moved my office to a corner far removed from the in-law apartment. I use sound–binaural music, tibetan bowls, fans–to block out the noise. And if I am honest with myself, I resent the heck out of it.

I mean, it’s my house, my dwelling, where I dwell. Yet I am dwelling (!) in the negative meaning of the word, on why I have to make all these concessions to be peaceful in my own space! Granted, the concessions have worked for the most part (she said sheepishly.) Weekends and early mornings are still difficult. I have a lovely home, with many rooms and I don’t want to be sitting at my computer 24/7! So I have been trying to get up earlier, to beat my parents to the punch, to be able to sit with my coffee for a few minutes of birds chirping and breezes blowing. And a few minutes is literally all I have been able to carve out! So far 20 minutes is the max.

I love quiet. My favorite moment of being on our boat is when the sails are up, and we shut the engine off. In that moment is the shock of stillness. And it hits me every single time. Maybe that’s part of the reason I love sailing in Maine so much, the small coves far from any roads where we can drop an anchor for the evening and hear nothing but nature. Even that, getting away on the boat, will become more challenging, as with age for my parents, along with deafness, comes falls and the inability to get up; the difficulty of preparing proper meals (more than a can of sodium-laden soup); the strain of even getting out of the house for a change of scenery or fresh air.


So I am working on new rituals, ones that will clear away my resentment and allow me to be patient and generous of spirit. Ones that will sustain me through what I believe are more challenging days ahead. Help me think about what I can do. What helps clear your mind and space of negativity? What rituals are part of your day?

8 Replies to “Rituals”

  1. Comment hi Cheryl, it’s so great to see you back again. I know that when I’m feeling my most stressed out, I try to close my eyes and think of all the things I am grateful for . the small things like you wrote about, a cup of tea, listening to the birds, a few minutes of reading, a good book, right now it’s the sight of all the beauty around me as spring blooms in my neighborhood. And of course my family, whom I love so much. I know that dealing with aging parents is very very tough. but remember that when they are gone, they will be gone for a long, long time. You are doing the most wonderful thing that any child can do for their parents, just by being there for them. A hug, a touch, a memory shared. These things are priceless.

  2. Cheryl, thought about this program as I read your post. I am planning to attend for myself! Don’t have any coping gems but I do know of the importance of taking care of self so one can take care of others. Love
    Caregivers Conference – A Survival Guide for Healthy Aging on May 6, 2023

    Reserve your spot for a free lunch and time to hear experts in the Aging field. Learn about resources to help. Perhaps you are wondering how you will be able to juggle all the duties. Join us on May 6 from 10 am – 3 pm for a very informative conference about caring for your best friend, parent or neighbor. Topics will include Support at home, Medical issues, legal and financial planning, caregiver health and wellbeing and transportation resources. Lunch and respite care for a loved one is available, free of charge. The conference will be at the Swampscott High School, 200 Essex Street, Swampscott. Preregistration is required since space is limited. Please call 781-596-8866.

  3. Cheryl, I was so glad I happened to see your FB post that you are resuming your blog! Dwelling with what is in your home certainly does call for new rituals, new ways of finding peace and silence even in the midst of what can often feel like out-of-control chaos.

    Though gratitude and remembering why I made certain choices in my life can sometimes be helpful, for me they often serve more to make me feel worse if they don’t just bubble up naturally vs. “shoulding” myself, that top-down, think-my-way-through-it/just.get.through.this. grind. That cognitive push to change how I feel and/or my circumstances is exhausting and can be weirdly self-shaming.

    What do I do? I have to remind myself daily that there are no “negative” feelings. That’s some weird understanding that’s screwed up so many of us. I constantly practice feeling and honoring everything I notice coming up and being compassionate with myself. A long time ago, I learned of metta meditation (lovingkindness) and tonglen. These practices along with others have shifted my life experience dramatically.

    The more I notice and let myself feel whatever I feel, and let it pass without getting stuck in reasons or stories or projections etc., the more easily and quickly my experiences shift, I feel more content and open to small joys, and I’m patient and compassionate with others and challenging situations without much effort.

    One of my daily practices is Yoga Nidra, and I’ve liked listening to James Reeves’s practices (free on the site RestfulBeing.com). In one of them he asks you to notice sounds and sensations etc. and notice if you’re labeling them or choosing one over another, or pushing anything away. There’s no judging, just noticing. I noticed how often I do all those things instead of just opening to and allowing the experience to flow through me, whatever it is. The practice mostly has ended my agitation with the sounds of traffic and my 8th grade neighbor’s seemingly endless enthusiasm for riding his unfathomably loud snowmobile and ATV. And it’s eased up many other anxieties and agitations in my life. (But practice doesn’t make perfect, so when all else fails, with noise at least, I don my high-end ear protectors designed for shooting ranges…which fit perfectly over my earbuds ).

    I also have a daily practice of reading poetry and/or reflective writing. David Whyte is one of my favorite “life guides.” I’m sharing this link to his reflection called “Beseiged” because it seems to respond directly to your post. If the link doesn’t come through you can probably find it online. It’s from his wonderful book, Consolations: The Solace Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.
    The link is to a meditation app I use a lot called Waking Up, and it shouldn’t require you to put in any information unless you want the free trial.

    That was an insanely long response to your post! Words just spew out of me sometimes. I wish you ease and peace as you navigate this new path in life, and I look forward to reading your thoughts in coming times! You’re a really engaging writer. ✨jazz

    1. Jazz, these are such great tips. Thank you for the all of the links; I am going to check out James Reeves. I mean, I am going to check out all of these but he sounds particularly interesting to me. And thank you for the kind words. I do believe I am processing through writing out loud!

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